The Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service, Ikeja, has intercepted contraband with a Duty Paid Value of N8.21billion and through interventions, recovered N405.21million.
The Area Controller of the command, Comptroller Mohammed Uba, made this known in a statement in Lagos on Monday.
According to him, the sum of N405.21 million was recovered from duty payments and demand notices on vehicles and general goods that tried to cut corners from seaports, airport and border stations through wrong classification.
Uba said: “In the months under review, 107 suspects were arrested in connection with 596 different seizures comprising 34,652 foreign parboiled rice, 167 units of exotic vehicles such as Toyota Prado/Lexus; bullet proof, Camry LE, Toyota Hilux, Ford F150, Pajero Jeeps, and Mercedes Benz vehicles ranging from 2015-2018 models, respectively.
“Also a total of 8,987 cartons of frozen poultry products, 4,586 jerry cans of vegetable oil, 3,463 cartons of different pharmaceuticals/medicaments, 370 parcels/98 sacks of Indian hemp weighing 1,350kg, and various general merchandise.
“Among the seizures within this period, was the interception of 460 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 12, 264 kg and 218 elephant tusks, making it the highest seizure of such endangered species in the history of the Federal Operations Unit, Zone A.
“This seizure, among others, brought a lot of accolades to us from the Comptroller-General of the NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) and his management team.’’
He said that the between January and June, the command visited the Minister of State for the Environment, Malam Ibrahim Usman, accompanied by the United Nations Charter on CITES delegates, led by Juan Carlos.
Uba said that Carols is the Chief of Legal Affairs, CITES Headquarters in Geneva, and they went to inspect the seized items, so as to make necessary recommendation to its headquarters.
He added that the Minister of the Environment commended the FOU, Zone ‘A’ for the great seizures.
The command’s boss, said that the United Nations delegates also promised their support to provide necessary training towards combatting such illicit trade in endangered species, so that such harmless animals do not go into extinction.
He explained that the seized pangolin and elephant tusks alone were worth N2.73 billion, while two Chinese nationals were arrested as suspects.
According to him, we will continue to make sure smugglers within our areas of jurisdiction count their losses until they repent from sabotaging our economy.
Uba reiterated that though smuggling is a global phenomenon that cannot be eradicated entirely; he urged all hands to be on deck so that it could be reduced to its barest minimum.
He commended the officers/men who have put their lives on the line in making these seizures, especially the over 58 trailers loads of rice which was a big battle in the creeks.
Uba equally commended their resilience and doggedness that brought about the feat.