The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit, Zone ’C’ has intercepted five sacks of pangolin scales, hard drugs and other contraband worth N2,757,676,390 from January 25 to March 25, 2023.
The FOU C also recovered the sum of N61,467,109 from demand notices raised based on some infractions discovered, making a cumulative sum of N2,819,143,499.
The Acting Comptroller, FOU C, DC Kayode Kolade, who made this known while addressing newsmen during his maiden press conference in Owerri, on Wednesday, said that 13 suspects were arrested in connection with the seizures within the period under review.
Kolade who assumed office on the 25th of January said that the seizures were among his significant achievements. He listed other seized contraband to include 398 sacks of cannabis sativa popularly known as Indian hemp weighing 8,756kg and 2,308 compressed parcels of same Indian hemp 1kg each totaling 2,308kg.
Others were 26 cartons of CMC Cough Syrup with codeine 100mg containing 2,600 bottles; three units of exotic vehicles all bulletproof; 931 jumbo bales of second hand clothing; 484 bags of smuggled rice; 31 cartons of various medicaments including 4 rolls of ZH tramadol containing 40 packs; 32 jerry cans of PMS (25litres each) and 540 pieces of used pneumatic tyres.
According to him, the successes so far recorded were in line with his management mandate which includes: blockage of all revenue leakages, trade facilitation and intensification of anti-smuggling operations at various entry points: Seaports, land borders, and Airport within the Unit’s areas of jurisdiction in the south/south-South/East zone.
His words: “The DPV was derived from our detained and seized goods which include: five sacks of pangolin scales weighing 413.1kilograme, 398 sacks of cannabis sativa popularly known as Indian hemp weighing 8,756kg and 2,308 compressed parcels of same Indian hemp 1kg each totaling 2,308kg, 26 cartons of CMC Cough Syrup with codeine 100mg containing 2,600 bottles, 3 units of exotic vehicles all bulletproof, 931 jumbo bales of second hand clothing, 484 bags of smuggled rice, 31 cartons of various medicaments including 4 rolls of ZH tramadol containing 40 packs, 540 pieces of used pneumatic tyres and 32 jerry cans of PMS (25litres each).
“Remarkably, the five sacks of pangolin scales weighing 413.1kilograme and the 11,064kg of the Indian hemp are the highest if not arguably the first seizure of such endangered species and hard drugs in the history of Federal Operations Unit Zone C. Effort towards combatting the illicit trade on endangered species is to ensure that such animals don’t go into extinction. Hence, Nigeria, a signatory to CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) categorizes the scales under absolute prohibition making its importation or trade illegal globally.
“While the predominantly white belly Pangolin scales were intercepted along Benin-Lagos expressway, the 398 sacks and 2,308 parcels of Indian hemp were intercepted at Ewu-Auchi road and Asaba/Onitsha Expressway respectively. Also, a 2x40ft containers number: MRSU 135969/6 and MAEU 356823/5 carrying 518 bales, and 392 Jumbo bales of used clothing mostly concealed in heavy-duty trucks, and buses were intercepted along Benin/Okada axis and Umeikaa/Aba Road respectively.
“The 26 cartons of cough syrup with codeine, and 31 cartons of unregistered medicaments including tramadol was all intercepted along Asaba/Onitsha Expressway. The 484 bags of 50kg each of the foreign parboiled rice were intercepted along Benin-Okada expressway.
“The three exotic armored vehicles without customs documents and End User Certificate intercepted along patani/Bayelsa/PH expressway and Okada/Benin Expressway include two Toyota Land cruiser 2022 models and One BMW 2022 model. 540 pieces of used pneumatic tyres were also intercepted along Ihiala/Onitsha road and Cross River waterside “.
According to the Comptroller, all the interceptions were made based on credible intelligence as his officers and men maneuvered to beat the system from colleagues within the Southwest zone.
He described the seizures as a further affirmation of the determination of the Service to enforce all laws, relating to the importation and exportation of goods into and out of Nigeria thereby contributing to the economy, security, and well being of the Country.
“Only God knows what will happen if these items especially the hard drugs get to their destinations unchecked considering their security implication. The interception of these items and other previously related seizures further justify why you see our field operatives on surveillance patrol along our highways within our areas of jurisdiction as empowered by sections 158, 149, and 150 of Customs and Excise Management Act CAP C45 LFN 2004 which allows Customs officer to patrol freely, Search Vehicles and Persons respectively “.
He called for improved serenity and cooperation of all stakeholders and the general public to kindly and humbly comply when stopped for search and show mutual maximum respect to field officers and the Service in general.
The Unit’s helmsman promised that his officers would always act professionally while performing their statutory responsibilities based on the approved Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) with a touch of a human face especially as the festive period nears.
He however, attributed the sterling feat to the leadership style of the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd), and the entire Management Team of the Nigeria Customs Service for their efforts in recognizing commitment, dedication, and hard work.
“Without the Management incentives and necessary logistics support, we won’t have attained this feat within this short period and we hope to achieve more. To my dear colleagues, Customs Intelligence Unit, Customs Police, I must commend your prompt intelligence sharing, resilience and doggedness that brought about this giant stride. You will agree with me that the fight against smuggling can only be won if all hands are on deck”.
While DC Kolade thanked the media for their level of synergy and urged them to join the Service in the advocacy campaign against the peril of smuggling to the Nation’s economy, he enjoined all well-meaning Nigerians to support the service with information that could assist the Service to perform their statutory responsibilities in the interest of the nation.