• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
businessday logo


Customs seizes N5.35bn contraband items from smugglers

Customs seizes N5.35bn contraband items from smugglers

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone C, Owerri, said it intercepted contraband items worth over N5.35 billion from smugglers and fraudulent importers from January to December 2023.

The unit also recovered N152 million from importers who made under declaration at seaports in the year under review.

The FOU Zone C covered all the states in the South-East and South-South regions including Bayelsa, Port Harcourt 1 and 2, Edo, Delta, Cross River, Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, Imo and Akwa Ibom States.

Kayode Kolade, the Customs area controller of the units, told journalists on Friday that the seized contraband items include five sacks of pangolin scales: 398 sacks of Indian hemp, weighing 8,756kg and another 2,308 compressed parcels of Indian hemp of 1kg each.

“The five sacks of pangolin scales weighing 413.1kg and the 11,064kg of Indian hemp are the highest if not arguably the first seizure of such endangered species and hard drugs in the history of the zone.

“The command also intercepted 31 cartons of various medicaments including tramadol; 32 jerry cans of petrol and 540 pieces of used tyres and between July 25 and September 23, 2023, the FOU Zone C intercepted cannabis sativa; raw materials for production of explosive devices, as well as other contraband with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N1.6 billion,” he said.

According to him, the Zone also arrested nine suspects in connection with the seizures.

Other items seized included fake pharmaceutical products, tramadol, used vehicles, used tyres, used clothing and explosive raw materials among others.

In total, the unit further seized goods worth over N5 billion in duty-paid value in the 2023 fiscal year.

Also, the unit raised demand notices worth over N152 million to fraudulent importers, thereby, saving the federal government revenue that would have hitherto, been lost to fraudulent importers.

Chukwu Okenwa, a clearing agent operating at the Onne seaport, applauded the Kolade, for blocking revenue leakages from the eastern port.

He also applauded him for facilitating trade and ensuring that genuine importers are not frustrated after clearing their cargoes from the seaports.

“Kolade has been supportive of clearing agents operating at the eastern zone. FOU don’t arrest already cleared cargoes from the Eastern seaport indiscriminately. The FOU C roadblocks have been streamlined even as he promised to facilitate trade,” he said.

Also speaking, Bright Amaechi said Kolade has dealt decisively with smugglers on the eastern axis.

Since the appointment of Kayode Kolade, as the Customs area controller of the units, smugglers have been losing huge millions of naira to the Federal Government daily.