Customs in Owerri makes massive seizures despite COVID-19:
*Intercepts 3,122 live ammunition, N442.4million contraband
By Silas Onuoha :
The Premises of Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘C’ Owerri was the beehive of activities two days ago, as the Customs Area Controller (CAC) of the Unit, Comptroller Olusemire Kayode, unveiled mind-boggling seizures of 3,122 live ammunition and other contraband worth over N442.4million in Duty Paid Value (DPV) recorded by his team.
Addressing Journalists in Owerri, Comptroller Kayode revealed that the seizures were made from March – June, 2020.
According to him, “It is clear that the pandemic has not deterred smugglers, who still persist in their nefarious trade to the disadvantage of the nation’s economy”.
While showcasing seizures made in Abia, Imo and Rivers State axis, deposited in government warehouse in Owerri, he also noted that the Unit had other seizures made across the Zone deposited in government warehouses in Enugu, Benin and Calabar.
He gave a break-down of some of the seizures to include: 3,122 pieces of live ammunition cartridges for pump action rifles with DPV of N1,873,000;10,002 cartons of palmolein oil with DPV of N202,400,480; 300 pieces of used vehicles tyres worth N6,120,000; 186 jumbo bales of second hand clothings worth N33,480,000; 2,182 Bags of 50kg foreign rice with DPV of N54,550,000; Means of conveyance with DPV of N143,410,000 and 20 packs of 200mg Tramadol worth N600,000.
The CAC pointed out, “When people are struggling to come to terms with what is happening, scientists are putting heads together to come up with a cure, the federal government and NCDC are working to see how we can provide solution to COVID-19 pandemic; some people are still in the habit of smuggling.
“We do not know why someone will go and smuggle rice around this time, ammunition, used tyres and even vegetable oil that is available everywhere in Nigeria.
“Nigeria land is arable. It is known to everyone that Nigeria has a blessed land where rice can grow. We are in wet season when everyone should be planting rice. There is nowhere you plant rice that it will not grow. The government is trying daily to see how they can encourage farming, so that we can be food sufficient without going abroad to import rice or food; yet, we have over 2,682 bags of rice picked up from different places. Let us eat what we produce and produce what we eat.”.
He went on, “Here, we have a truck meant to convey beer but bags of rice have been concealed in it. We equally have passengers’ vehicle intercepted with 236 bags of rice hidden in all its baggage compartments. You can see that Nigerians are still involved in smuggling rice.
“A vehicle of this level, Toyota Sequia is being used to smuggle rice, all in attempt to beat officers on the road. There is no way you will see this vehicle and think it is laden with rice. It is a tinted vehicle. People will go to any level to smuggle. It has become their lifestyle but we are trying to tell people to stop this activity,” he stated.
Comptroller Kayode noted that the Unit is running out of space to store rice, so much that even the armoury has been used to constructively warehouse over 235 bags of rice, to shield the items from weather elements.
He advised smugglers to turn a new leaf and help build the economy through legitimate trade.
“In Nigeria, we should not be complaining of textiles when we have cotton. The textile industry has gone moribund. People are still bringing in used clothings, which we know to be unhealthy. Second-hand clothing is absolutely prohibited from being brought into the country. It is high time, we go back to rebuilding our textile industries.
“Here we have six trailers of vegetable oil. We have companies producing nutritious vegetable oil in Nigeria, so I don’t know why people import retail vegetable oil all the way from Malaysia, when we have it in Nigeria,” he queried.
Displaying the 3122 pieces of ammunition, Comptroller Kayode, decried smuggling as inimical to the economy and safety of Nigeria, saying that illegal importation of arms and ammunition fuels crime and banditry in the country.
He appealed for credible information from the public to bring smuggling to its minimum”.