From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
Seventeen suspects have been arrested by the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’, Ikeja of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in connection with various intercepted contrabands with an approximate cumulative Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N1.04 billion this February.
Also recovered was N67.95 million through demand notices raised on goods intercepted while attempting to beat the system through transfer of value and under-declaration, bringing the total to N1.103 million.
The items included 18 assorted vehicles of 2008-2015 models, comprising a unit each of Roll Royce, Chrysler, Audi Q7, Land Rover HSE, Toyota Venza, Ford Taurus, Honda Cross Tour, and Escalade, four Mercedes Benz and three Kia Rio, among.
Other items included 4,201 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice (about seven trailers), 2,619 cartons of frozen poultry products, 1,105 jerry cans of vegetable oil, 2,637 units of used tyres, 1,333 bales of used clothing, 2,001kg of pangolin and 343kg of elephant tusks, among others.
Conducting newsmen round the seized items Wednesday, Comptroller Mohammed Uba Garba disclosed that some of the vehicles were intercepted along the Ijebu Ode Expressway, while the others were evacuated from a car mart in the Lekki area of Lagos.
According to him, a 20ft container was seized for false declaration, tantamount to outright seizure, while among the 17 detained suspects was a Chinese national, Mr. Ko Sin Ying, arrested in connection with the pangolin shells and elephant tusks.
Comptroller Garba disclosed that acting on intelligence, the Warehouse Operations Team, led by Assistant Comptroller Mutalib Sule, raided an apartment at No.38, Ogundana Street, off Allen Avenue, Ikeja, and evacuated 55 sacks of pangolin shell weighing 2,001kg and valued at N408.32 million, and 218 pieces of elephant tusk weighing 343kg and valued at N85.2 million.
He said: “You will recall that the responsibilities of the Nigeria Customs Service have undoubtedly increased tremendously overtime because of the implementation of different international protocols and conventions.
“The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES 1973) entails that customs administrations globally protect wild life by intercepting illegal trade on such animals. It further prevents the killings of endangered species since the tusks are only available after the killing of such animals like elephant and pangolin”.