The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone ‘A’ yesterday said it intercepted smuggled foreign parboiled rice, used vehicles, textiles materials as well as Indian hemp worth over N30billion.
The items, it was learnt, were seized almost a month after the Federal Government re-opened the land borders for economic activities.
Confirming the seizure to The Nation, the Acting Customs Area Controller, FOU, Zone ‘A’, Usman Yahaya, said the contrabands were intercepted between January 1, 2021 and yesterday.
But sources at the Zone said the seized items were smuggled through the bush parts at Seme, Idiroko, Oyo and Osun states.
Some of the seized items, according to Yahaya, included fake pharmaceutical products worth N51million along Ijebu-Ode in Ogun State as well as Indian hemp smuggled from Ghana to Iseyin in Oyo State.
He said: “After the opening of Seme border by the Federal Government, the smugglers thought they could cash on it to perpetrate their evil act, but the unit left them with heavy loses as evidenced in the seizures.”
Giving account, he said a total of 142,677 seizures of different items were intercepted even as he vowed not to relent in making the environment tough for smugglers.
“A quick glance at the period under review, the Unit intercepted and seized a total of 142,677 seizures of different items. 41,652 bags of 50kg smuggled parboiled rice from Idiroko, Ipokia, Imeko, Iseyin, Igbo-ora and Seme; 1,356 bags of 25kg smuggled parboiled rice; 4,529kg of Indian hemp smuggled from Ghana to Islington in Oyo State worth N710million.
“Others are 66 packs of Tramadol and other unregistered pharmaceutical products; 5,849 cartons of fake drugs; 266 units of means of conveyance and 218 used vehicles.
Also intercepted according to the Yahaya: “are, 1,660 bales of textiles materials; 2,152 kegs of 25kg vegetable oil falsely declared at the other at the seaport of Apapa and Tin-Can Island port and 6,985 cartons of frozen poultry products, and 985 kegs of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) were seized.
The CAC who said 44 suspected suspects were arrested in connection with the seized items promised smugglers and their promoters of harder times.
“We arrested 44 suspects in connection with the seizures but as a Unit, we will continue to re-strategize to ensure that smugglers don’t have a hiding place. Instead of incurring losses, I will advise smugglers to embrace legitimate business and become responsible citizens,” he said.