The Federal Operations Unit, Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Thursday said it’s men in 2022 prosecuted the Units core mandates in the six states of the South-West namely: Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo states; making a total seizure of smuggled items worth N13,908,575,436.5, while losing four officers in the anti-smuggling fight.
Addressing journalists in Lagos on Thursday as part of it’s end of the year media briefing, acting Controller of the Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Hussein Ejibunu explained that his Unit prevented loss of government revenue as it’s assigned position of being a layer of check uncovered attempts at evading duties.
According to Ejibunu, “We recovered the discovered shortfalls through Issuance of demand notices (DN).
“We did all these at the expense of our lives placing national interest ahead of any narrow or personal gain. It is sad to note that some of our officers paid the supreme price last year when they got killed by smugglers. For us, they are the heroes of the anti-smuggling battle and they will never be forgotten.
“In the area of anti-smuggling, from January 1 to December 31 2022, we made a total seizure of smuggled items worth a duty paid value of N13,908,575,436.5.
“Aside protecting the national economy, some of the seizures achieved protection of citizens’ health because dangerous, expired and harmful products were prevented from being smuggled into the country.
“In terms of volume, rice topped the list of our seizures. We seized 93,102 by 50kg which amounts to about 156 trailer loads of rice. Even our newly constructed warehouse had an overflow of seized rice.
“A total number of 108 automobiles comprising of trucks, tankers, cars and motorcycles were seized either as smuggled items or means of conveyance of smuggled items.
“Illicit drugs seized are, 7,354 kg and 4,975 tablets of Cannabis sativa, 233 cartons by 225 milligrams, and 82 packs by 225 milligrams of Tramadol. It is pertinent to remind us that these hard drugs fuel crime and insecurity.
“For petroleum products, this Unit seized 656,414 liters of premium motor spirit (PMS); that is, about 20 tanker loads of fuel from economic saboteurs who seek to impoverish the majority of our country people by taking out petrol subsidized for citizens’ benefit to be sold in other countries.
“We arrested 176 smuggling suspects last year, secured 7 convictions. 14 were charged to court and are at various stages of investigation and prosecution. Seven suspects are in detention; 2 suspects were handed over to NDLEA, and one suspects was handed over to the Nigerian Police respectively, while 151 are on administrative bail.
“On a sad note, four of our officers namely: Late inspectors of Customs TP Astor and A. Onwueguzie; Assistant Inspectors of Customs, Musa, R. and Bristol E. lost their lives in active service while confronting smugglers last year. While we frowned at such murderous acts, we also ensured that those behind some of the killings were arrested to face justice.
“While on our enforcement function, we recovered shortfalls in duty payments and achieved a total collection of N878,344,486,96 as revenue for the government in 2022.
This collected revenue would have been lost but for the intervention of FOU ‘A’, checking to be sure correct duties were paid into government coffers.”