From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
Buoyed by a strengthened anti-smuggling operations, the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’, Ikeja, Lagos of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) intercepted various contrabands with a duty paid value (DPV) of N8.2 billion from January to June, 2018.
The unit, through its interventions, also recovered N405.3 million from duty payments and demand notices on vehicles and general goods that tried evade full payments at the seaports, airport and border stations through wrong classification, transfer of value, and shortchange in duty payment, bringing it to N8.62 billion.
Similarly, 107 suspects were arrested in connection with a total of 596 different seizures within the period.
The seizures comprised 34,652 bags (58 trailers) of 50kg foreign parboiled rice, 167 exotic vehicles (including Toyota Prado/Lexus bullet proof, Toyota C-HR , Toyota Camry LE, Toyota Hilux, Ford F150, Pajero Jeeps and Mercedes Benz (ranging from 2015-2018 models).
There were also 8,987 cartons of frozen poultry products, 4,586 jerrycans of vegetable oil, 3,463 cartons of different pharmaceutical/medicaments, 370 parcels/98 sacks of Indian hemp weighing 1,350kg, and various general merchandise.
Remarkable among the seizures was the 460 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 12, 264 kg and 218 elephant tusks, making it the highest seizure of such endangered species in the history of FOU Zone A operations.
This seizure, among others, fetched the unit particular commendations from the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) and his management team, as the interception coincided with the visit of the Minister of State for Environment, Mallam Ibrahim Usman, accompanied by delegates from the United Nations charter on CITES, led by Mr Juan Carlos.
They inspected the seized items and make necessary recommendation to its headquarters in Geneva, and promised to provide necessary trainings towards combatting such illicit trade on endangered species, so that such harmless animals don’t go extinct.
The seized pangolin and elephant tusk were valued at N2.74 billion, with two Chinese nationals arrested as suspects.
According to Comptroller Mohammef Uba Garba, “to ensure full implementation of government’s ban on importation of rice through the land borders, the unit had beamed searchlight at the creeks, waterside and various locations in the southwest zone and hence the massive rice seizure within the period.