The Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service has intercepted five trucks loaded with 1,499 bags of 50kg parboiled rice and 3, 071 cartons of smuggled frozen poultry products.
Addressing newsmen while inspecting the consignment at the customs warehouse in Ikeja, Controller of the Unit, Comptroller Umar Mohammed said the estimated Duty Paid Value of the smuggled rice and poultry products was over N26 million.
He said the Unit’s surveillance team led by Deputy Superintendent of Customs, Ohagwu Jude had invaded the volatile terrain of Iteku waterside, based on intelligence report that smugglers were using the axis to illegally bring in rice into the country.
He said that the smugglers obviously took advantage of the inaccessibility of the terrain to bring in the smuggling rice but the strategic planning of the officers and support from the military led to the seizure.
“The team had to devise a means of accessing the terrain, disguised, using flying boat, through the Agbara waterways, while a backup team came in through Lusada in Ogun State. This move was deliberately undertaken to ensure that the smugglers did not pre-empt the motive of my operatives”, he said.
“As you are aware, the issue of collaboration is a key aspect of our strategy. This is in view of the fact that no single agency can work in isolation of the other, hence the need to harmonize competencies and capacities for optimal performance. All agencies are ultimately working towards the same goal of actualizing their various constitutional mandates, without losing sight of inter-agency cooperation which is key,” Umar stated.
He praised the commitment of the officers in effecting the seizure in spite of the attack on them by the smugglers to retrieve the seized goods.
He said his Unit is determined to enforce the ban on rice through the land borders and had started putting modalities in place aimed at re-jigging the capacity and competence of the Unit in dealing with the issue of smuggling.
He informed that the Unit has commenced evacuation of rice and vegetable oil to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Borno State in line with the recent Presidential directive.
He expressed appreciation for the support of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali for providing necessary working tools which he said have been useful in the prosecution of war on smuggling.
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