A total of N1.3 billion worth of smuggled items have been seized by a special team set up by Hamid Ali, Comptroller General [CGC], Nigeria Customs Service, two months ago, an official said on Friday.
Musa Jalo, an Assistant Comptroller of Customs who heads the CGC’s Compliance Team, said in Kaduna that 23 suspects were arrested in various operations it carried out across the country.
He said that the seized items included rice, vegetable oil, sphaghetti, poultry products, used tyres, used vehicles, second hand clothes and mosquito coil.
“Two months down the line, our aggressive patrols of creeks, highways and suspected routes used by criminals and smugglers, and strong deployment of intelligence have continued to justify the creation of the team.
“Within the period under review, we have been able to make a total of Five Hundred and Ninety One assorted seizures across the country, with Duty Paid Value of One Billion, Three Hundred Million Naira only [N1, 300, 000.00].
“It is important to point out that, this is what would have been lost had this team not been created by the CGC because our operation focus on areas of leakages,” he said.
He noted that rice was the most smuggled item acros the country, and assured that the service would continue to enlighten Nigerians on the effect of smuggling to the nation’s economy.
According to him, some traders have been arrested a week ago in Lagos rebagging unwholesome smuggled rice.
“This shows that smugglers are only after profits making, they do not care whether people lose their lives after consuming it.
“They do not care whether our local rice farmers lose their investments, they do not care about national economy or job opportunities for our youths. All they want is money.
“We are determined to stop this and protect the economy and secure the well being of all Nigerians, no matter whose toes we step on in the process.”
The assistant comptroller advised those engaged in smuggling to find legitimate businesses or spend their lives in jail.
The News Agency of Nigeria [NAN] reports that items seized included 23, 237 bags of rice, 2, 715 jerry cans of vegetable oil, 2. 070 cartons of sphagetti, 5, 676 cartons of frozen poultry products.
The rest were 1, 055 bales of second hand clothes, 4, 491 used tyres, 319 cartons of mosquito coil and 237 used vehicles.