By Steve Agbota, Lagos
Operatives of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, said it arrested 27 suspects in connection with some of the 1,800 seizures of contraband, which include 607 kilogrammes of Cannabis Sativa popularly known as Indian Hemp and others.
The Acting Controller of the unit, Deputy Comptroller Hussein Kehinde Ejibunu, who disclosed this to journalists in Lagos yesterday said the unit also made seizures of 7,059 bags of 50 kg foreign parboiled rice, which is equivalent to 14 trailer loads, and other smuggled items with duty paid value of N713,663,355 within the same period.
He said the seizures were the results of unrelenting and uncompromising anti-smuggling activities by the unit aimed at enforcing government policies and protecting the economy.
Giving a breakdown of the seizures, Ejibunu said: ‘The last briefing took place on Tuesday, December 2, 2021, for which most of you witnessed the showcasing of the Unit’s seizure in 5 weeks with a duty paid value (DPV) of N2.8 billion.
‘As the year slides to an end, and being an integral part of this all-important project, we thought it wise to invite you once again for today’s Press Briefing anchored on more seizures recorded from 3rd December 2021, till date.
‘In just three weeks, the Unit made the following seizures: 7,059 bags of foreign parboiled rice 50 kg each (about 14 trailers load); 607 kilograms of Cannabis Sativa (Indian hemp); 537 kegs of PMS at 25 litres each; 86 bales of secondhand clothing; 570 pieces of used brassieres; 4,467 pairs of used shoes; 280 cartons of frozen poultry products; 186 pieces of used bags, three used vehicles; 43 used motorcycles; 70 cartons of tomato paste; and 39 used fridges.’
While addressing some inquiries by members of the public on the legality of Customs officer patrols and seizures, he cited relevant sections of the Customs and Excise Management Act 2004 as amended.
He explained that section 147 gives the service authority to enter any premises on suspicion of harbouring prohibited items without warrant; section158 gives authority to patrol freely and section 46 confers authority to seize prohibited items.
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He added that section 11 gives power of prosecution of anyone obstructing Customs officers for doing their duty.
On the killing of Customs officers, he expressed the determination of the service to arrest anyone involved in such murderous acts while announcing the arrest of one of the prime suspects that killed an officer of the unit on active service on September 11.
The unit within the period under review also seized 721.5 kg of cannabis which was handed over to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
He added that a seizure of 607 kg of the illicit drug was made along Oshodi-Mushin Expressway without a suspect, while 114.5 kg was intercepted and seized along Ijebu Ode-Abeokuta Expressway with a suspect identified as Mr Anthony Duru.
The unit had recently handed over 14,728 kg of Cannabis Sativa which has become a regular occurrence that Ejibunu decried as a contributor to criminal activities that shouldn’t be allowed in the society
Ejibunu described the NDLEA as an agency carved out of the NCS and a worthy partner with the service in the suppression of crimes.
Receiving the Cannabis Sativa on behalf of the NDLEA, Mr Humphrey Ugwoke, a Deputy Commander of Narcotics (DNC), thanked DC Ejibunu for his contribution to the fight against illicit drugs and commended the cooperation between both agencies of government.