The Ogun Area Command Controller, Nigeria Customs Service, Sani Madugu, says smugglers now use the creeks along the border communities at Idiroko, Ipokia Local Government Area, to smuggle bags of rice and other prohibited products into the country.
He disclosed this on Thursday at the command’s border office at Idiroko, while briefing journalists about the seizure of prohibited goods coming through land borders made by the command in the last three weeks.
Madugu, said within the period, officers and men of the command during surveillance intercepted 483 bags of rice, 721 cartons of imported croaker fish, two exotic cars(Mercedes Benz S-class 2015 model and Toyota corolla 2009 model) and one Volvo truck.
He said, in summary, all the intercepted goods have Duty Payable value of over N37m.
The Ogun Customs boss, who took over the command on 25th April 2017, explained that the command has mounted a three-pronged strategy of mounting surveillance on the roads, illegal bush routes and creeks.
He said,” We have discovered one of the new methods of smuggling bags of rice and other prohibited products into Nigeria through Idiroko, is through the creeks in Ipokia.
“The smugglers now use small, small canoes to bring in the bags of rice. They were not aware that we had mounted surveillance there, as they were bringing in the consignments, our operatives swooped on them. In the last three weeks, we have made seizure of 483 of 50kg bags of rice.
“Also, we also intercepted along Idiroko axis two buses with number plates AKD ,674 XU and KJA 635 XU, carrying 721 cartons of croaker fish. Two exotic cars, Mercedes Benz S-class 2015 model, Toyota corolla 2009 model and one Volvo truck.”
Madugu, said while frozen products were completely prohibited, “Fish products are under regulated products in Nigeria with some specific guidelines which every fish importer must fulfil before he or she can embark on the importation of such.”
He said no suspect was arrested in these operations because the smugglers abandoned the contraband and fled.
Making veiled reference to the recent clash between Customs operatives and smugglers around the Tollgate area at Sango-Ota, warned that any smuggler who engaged operatives in gun battle would get “fire for fire.”
He, however, said his command would continue to use enlightenment programmes and engagement with traditional rulers in border communities to check the incidence of smuggling.