The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘C’, Owerri has continued to beam its search light on smugglers of contraband goods in the country resulting in the seizure of a total of one hundred and sixty-nine (169) items with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of one billion, three hundred and seventy-nine million, seven hundred and seventy-two thousand, five hundred and seventeen naira (N1,379,772,517.00) and a total of three hundred and ninety-four million, eight hundred and fifteen thousand, and thirty eight naira (N 394,815,038.00) as an underpayment recovered within the period in question; forty-two (42) suspects were arrested in connection with the seizures made, while twenty-five (25) cases are now pending in court for possible prosecution of the culprits between January and June this year. This is in contrast with a total of N39,644,813.00 underpayment recovered and a DPV of N1,013,833,362.00 which the unit recorded in the year 2015.
The Customs Comptroller in charge of the Unit, Haruna Mammudu who disclosed this, in a Press Release signed by the Public Relations Officer in Owerri, Assistant Superintendent of Customs II Onuigbo, Ifeoma; said that the banned items were confiscated by the vigilant Officers and Men of the Unit on the Benin, Calabar, Owerri, Enugu and Aba/Eleme axis within the zone. According to the Comptroller, the items which were packaged and concealed in such a manner as to deceive security agents on duty include 90 vehicles; 2,758 bags of 50kg rice; 4,160 pieces of used tyres; 1,337 cartons/set of furniture and 625 cartons of fake drugs (medicaments).
Others were 61 containers of log of wood; 2,600 pieces of imported school bags; 97 pieces of 14 stroke engine generator and used fridges; 3,550 cartons of foreign frozen poultry products; 992 bales of second hand clothings; 897 cartons of foreign detergents and creams as well as 167 pairs of foot wear. Comptroller Haruna while professing the preparedness of the NCS to tackle the scourge of smuggling of unauthorized goods into the country expressed delight at the seizures profile recorded during the first six (6) months of the year 2016 as against that made last year.
He however re-emphasized the dangers and implications inherent in the smuggling of illegal and unauthorized goods into the country, noting that while the ugly practice had continued to deal a devastating blow on the nation’s economy, many families had been ruined as a result of the dastardly unpatriotic practice. The Comptroller therefore appealed to Nigerians who are still trapped in the illicit cancer of smuggling to retract their steps in their own interest, warning that the Nigeria Customs Service is now better equipped, trained, motivated and reinvigorated to neutralize the antics of smugglers and to dislodge them wherever they hibernate to perpetrate their evil acts.
He also appealed to member of the public with useful information about smugglers, their agents and collaborators to always make them available to security agencies for necessary actions, pledging that such classified information would not be divulged to any individual, group or association. Haruna also advised the officers to always discharge their duty without fear or favour and abide strictly to the ethics of their profession; adding that efficiency, productivity, and dedication to duty should be their watch words in spite of any challenge facing them.
He assured them that government will always continue to reward hard work to deserving officers who distinguish themselves in the discharge of their official duties.