Contraband worth over N1.3 billion were impounded between the middle of last month and early this month by the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ?A? of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), its Area Controller, Mohammed Uba has told The Nation.
Addressing reporters at the unit?s Ikeja, Lagos command, he said the seized items included 15 assorted vehicles worth over N383 million.
Twelve suspects, he said, were arrested in connection to the 112 seizures made by his officers in less than one month.
The exotic vehicles, according to the controller, include three Toyota C-HR (2018 model), one Toyota Camry LE (2018 model), one Toyota Prado (2018 model), one Toyota Hilux (2017 model), one Ford FI50 (2017 model), one Pajero Jeep (2017 model), and one Mercedes Benz (2017 model), among others.
Uba said his men seized over 9000 bags of smuggled parboiled rice, with a duty paid value (DPV) of over N129 million.
Other seized items include 1,464 cartons of frozen poultry products, 870 jerry cans of vegetable oil, 273 bales of used clothing and 592 pieces of used tyres.
The command also seized four containers with Reg. No: PCIU850134/9, PCIU8278544, FCIU983753 and TGHU6924330 for false declaration.
Two of the containers, finding revealed, were laden with 8,633 pieces of empty gas cylinders as against plumbing materials declared in their SGD form. The other two containers also carried 120 bales of new jeans as against punching machine declared in the SGD form.
A total of 12 suspects, it was learnt, were arrested in connection to the 112 seizures worth N1,345,572,313.
?Similarly, the unit through its interventions recovered N59,506,773.25 from underpayments, making a cumulative of over N1,405 billion.
?To ensure full implementation of the government policy banning the importation of rice through land borders and following headquarters directive on same, we re-strategised our operational modali-ties and beam our searchlight at the Creek, Water side, and at various locations in south west zone and hence the reason for the massive rice seizure within the period under review.
?We will continue to make sure smugglers within our areas of jurisdiction count their losses until they repent from sabotaging our economy.
?As you already know, smuggling is a global phenomenon that cannot be eradicated entirely, but if all hands are on deck it will be reduced to its barest minimum,? he said.
Findings revealed that some senior officers of the command had to put their lives on the line to seize the items, most especially the 15 trailers.
A senior official of the unit, who craved anonymity, said: ?It was a big battle at the creek and bush parts to seize the rice from smugglers. The resilience and doggedness of the officers are highly commendable.?