The Customs Comptroller queried the aim of the importers of the consignment in concealing the military hardware and medicament
Uche Usim, Abuja
Operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘C’ Owerri, on Thursday intercepted a truck loaded with military hardware sandwiched between cartons of outlawed tramadol.
The seizure comes barely two months after a similar interception was made along Aba-Port Harcourt road.
The Comptroller, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘C’ Owerri, Comptroller Olusemire Kayode, who disclosed this in Friday, gave a breakdown of the intercepted consignment, which included:
90 pairs of military camouflage uniform, 97 pieces of military camouflage jungle hats, 202 pieces of military camouflage round neck vest, 20 pieces of military camouflage singlets, 40 pieces of military camouflage jungle boots and 10 pieces of military camouflage water bags.
Others items recovered are: two rolls of plain military khaki material, seven cartons of 402 packs of hydrochloride Royal tramadol containing 10x10x10 tablets made in India, four cartons of 60 packs Tramadol injection, made in India, three cartons of 140 packs of CSP with codeine cough syrup made in UK, 100 packs of Diazepam made in India, two cartons of 231 packs of Juhel D5 tablets, one carton of 100 packs of Pankizol, 10 cartons of new flip chart board, 51 cartons of lion school chalk and one carton of file.
In another operation, the Unit made seizures of 12 exotic vehicles and 881 bags of rice, with duty paid value of over N385 million along the Benin axis.
The Comptroller said the seizures were as a result of the hard work and diligence.
He listed the seized items to include: a 2014 model Range Rover Autobiography SUV with duty paid value of N76,423,500; Toyota Land Cruiser bulletproof (2016 model) with duty paid value of N40,105,545; Toyota Land cruiser bulletproof (2014 model) with duty paid value of N33,145,079; 2017 model bulletproof Mercedes Benz G-wagon with duty paid value of N68,554,565; Mercedes Benz GLE 450 (2016 model) with duty paid value of N26,032,239 and Toyota Rav 4 (2014 model) with duty paid value of N9,728,505.
Others included: Toyota Highlander 2017 model with duty paid value of N19,590,110; Toyota Hilux 2017 model with duty paid value of N15,413,996; Lexus ES350 2008 model with duty paid value of N4,510,391; Toyota Corolla 2014 model with duty paid value of N7,229,250; Ford Edge 2015 model with duty paid value of N16,835,891; 741 Bags of 50Kg foreign rice with duty paid value of N18,969,600; Ford Transit Bus carrying 100 Bags of 50Kg foreign rice with total DPV of N4,060,000; Ford Transit Bus carrying 40 Bags of 50Kg foreign rice with total DPV of N2,524,000.
Olusemire stated that the seizure was made following a tip-off from informants, and urged the public to emulate such patriotism by forwarding valuable information to the Service.
He added that two suspects are in custody and thorough investigation is ongoing.
He praised the doggedness and preparedness of officers and affirmed that the Unit under his watch will nip the affairs of smugglers in the bud.
Speaking further, he queried the aim of the importers of the consignment in concealing the military hardware and medicament explaining that the improper importation of the camouflage and medicament poses grave health and safety risks. He urged smugglers to engage in legitimate trade and called for public support in the fight against smuggling.
On the vehicles, the Comptroller said the bulletproof ones were not accompanied with relevant documents and the appropriate permit from the National Security Adviser prior to importation, hence the seizure.
He advised importers of such cars to pay the appropriate duties and resist the lure of evasion.
“Most of these vehicles are worth millions of naira. If they can afford to buy these vehicles, they should not evade paying the duty,” he said.
He assured that the Unit’s anti-smuggling operations will not relent under his watch and that the antics of smugglers will be thwarted in the zone. He also urged importers to acquaint themselves with extant laws governing trade in the country to avoid running afoul of the them.
Displaying some of the rice seizures, Comptroller Olusemire gave details of a consignment of rice concealed underneath heaps of bananas in a truck. He explained that officers were not in habit of hindering local traders in their daily business. However, the officers, acting on a tip off, checked the vehicle and discovered the infraction.
He sternly warned smugglers to quit the nefarious business, even as he urged Nigerians to support the local agricultural industry and buy locally produced rice.
He further stated that the ban of rice importation through land borders was still in force and urged the public to boost the agriculture sector and the economy patronising locally produced goods.
“With inter-agency cooperation, the support of the media and the public, we are positive that smuggling will be brought to a bare minimum,” he noted.