Goods with Duty paid value of more than N4.2 billion were seized by the Federal Operations Unit, zone A, Ikeja in the first half of this year.
The Unit’s Controller, Hussein Kehinde Ejibunu told newsmen today that 580 seizures were made while 60 suspects were arrested with more than N400.5 million recovered as revenue.
Notable among the seizures are 36,742 bags of foreign parboiled rice, with some of them ferried through the Bush paths using motorcycles and rickety vehicles as means of conveyance and 14,015 (7,728) parcels of indian hemp.
Others include 1,064 bales of used clothing, 450×106 kg drums of carbide, 2×20 unprocessed wood, 1448 pieces of foreign rugs, 30 units of used motor cycles, 44 units of used vehicles, 218,575 litres of premium motor spirit, 860 cartons of foreign poultry products and 833 pieces of used tyres.
Ejibunu stated that the Unit’s anti smuggling activities aim to protect the nation’s economy and prevent revenue loss while discouraging activities that contravene the customs extant laws.
‘Our strategic intervention also achieved recovery of revenue through the issuance of Demand Notices to complete underpaid duties into the federal government coffers that were being evaded by some importers and their agents’.
He disclosed that his men also succeeded in preventing the entry of dangerous or harmful substances like illicit drugs into the society.
Through the Federal High Courts, he revealed that 11 suspects were convicted for committing offences of improper importation, assault of customs officers, being in possession of foreign parboiled rice or pangolin scales meant for export.
He noted with delight that some other smuggling and related cases instituted in the courts are at various stages of prosecution and would be followed up diligently.
He reiterated that for the second half of this year, ” our onslaught against smugglers will be fiercer, with renewed determination to uncover them using intelligence-backed enforcement. ‘We shall get recalcitrant tradersand their agents arrested and prosecuted in addition to seizing their wares’.
He advised the trading community to embrace compliance and shun any act that would place them on the wrong side of the law, while keeping themselves abreast of the import and export prohibition lists as, according to him claims of ignorance will not suffice as an excuse whenever they are caught.
Ejibunu commended sister agencies for their unflinching synergy in the course of the Unit’s operation; He made special mention of the Department of State security services–Oyo state command for the arrest of a notorious suspect that was in the wanted list for attack on a customs patrol team escorting exhibits.
‘Interestingly, the suspect was arrested and handed over to the Unit yesterday’.