Customs seize N73m smuggled rice from Cameroon

The Nigeria Customs Service, Cross River State Command, in collaboration with other security agencies, have seized 7, 623 smuggled bags of rice at the Ikang Beach in Bakassi Local Government Area.

The bags of rice were suspected to have come in from Cameroon.

This came just as the Customs Area Comptroller, Mr. Bamidele Akande, said they surpassed their target of N6.1bn to generate N9.7bn in 2013.

Akande, who spoke with journalists in Calabar on Monday, said the paid value of the seized rice was N72.64m.

The Area Comptroller, who is in charge of Akwa Ibom, Cross River and the Calabar Free Trade Zone, however said no arrests were made.

He said his men successfully carried out the operation at Ikang having monitored the situation for about a week on intelligence report.

“These bags of rice are of different brands and it was imported from Thailand and India through Cameroon in small boats into Bakassi. Bakassi is not one of the approved points for the importation of rice,” he said.

Akande said no casualties were recorded as no single shot was fired during the operation.

He said the service enlisted the help of the Nigerian Navy,  army, Department of State Services, the police, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps to handle the situation at the weekend.

He said the smuggled rice came in a boat, which also had armed men, adding that due to the overwhelming force of their joint team, the armed men were subdued.

“You can imagine the danger this would have caused the economy if it had entered the market. We will continue to discharge our duties to the best of our abilities to stamp out illegalities and also protect the genuine importers. This is a hard lesson to the smugglers,” he said.

Akande said investigations would begin immediately to get those who were behind the illegal business.

He said if anyone was found culpable, such would be prosecuted before the seized goods were disposed of on court’s order.

On the revenue collected by the command in 2013, Akande stated that a target of N6.1bn was given to the command, but a total of N9.78bn was collected.

He said this effectively over shot the target by about N3.8bn, a feat he attributed to the cooperation of officers and men of the command.