Customs impounds N30bn worth of smuggled rice, used vehicles at Seme, Idiroko borders

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The Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), said it has intercepted smuggled foreign parboiled rice, used vehicles, textiles materials as well as Indian hemp worth over N30 billion smuggled into the country from Benin Republic.

The seizure was recorded one month after the Federal Government re-opened the nation’s land borders to economic activities after over one long year of border closure.

Speaking to newsmen in Lagos on Monday, Usman Yahaya, acting Customs Area Controller, FOU, Zone A, said the smuggled items were intercepted from January 1, 2021 till date.

According to him, also intercepted were fake and unregistered pharmaceuticals worth N51 million along Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, as well as Indian hemp smuggled from Ghana to Iseyin in Oyo State.

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“After the opening of Seme border by the Federal Government, the smugglers thought they could cash in on it to perpetrate their evil act, but the unit left them with heavy losses as evidenced in the seizures,” he said.

He said a total of 142,677 seizures of different items were intercepted even as he vowed never to relent in making the environment unconducive for smugglers.

“A quick glance at the period under review, the Unit intercepted and seized a total of 142,677 seizures of different items. 41,652 bags of 50kg smuggled parboiled rice from Idiroko, Ipokia, Imeko, Iseyin, Igbo-Ora and Seme; 1,356 bags of 25kg smuggled parboiled rice; 4,529kg of Indian hemp smuggled from Ghana to Iseyin in Oyo State worth N710 million,” he said.

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Others items include 66 packs of Tramadol and other unregistered pharmaceutical products; 5,849 cartons of fake drugs; 266 units of means of conveyance and 218 used vehicles.

Also intercepted, according to the Customs boss, are 1,660 bales of textiles materials, 2,152 kegs of 25kg vegetable oil falsely declared at the seaport of Apapa and Tin-Can Island port, 6,985 cartons of frozen poultry products, and 985 kegs of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

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The CAC, who said he arrested 44 suspected smugglers, advised economic saboteurs to quit or face harder times.

“We arrested 44 suspects in connection with the seizures but as a Unit, we will continue to re-strategise to ensure that smugglers don’t have a hiding place. Instead of incurring losses, I will advise smugglers to embrace legitimate business and become responsible citizens,” he added.

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