By Steve Agbota

The outgone Customs Area Controller (CAC), Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Comptroller Hussein Ejibunu over the weekend said that N35.9billion contraband and 386 suspects were arrested between September 10, 2021 to April 19, 2024.

Ejibunu disclosed this while handing over to the new CAC, Comptroller Kola Oladeji to spearhead the activities of the Unit.

However, Ejibunu said the unit has the mandate of revenue generation, anti-smuggling and facilitating legitimate trade.

“We have three mandate which are, anti -smuggling, revenue generation and facilitation of legitimate trade. We must pursue it and I must say that we are not here to facilitate illegal trade but genuine and legitimate trade,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Compt. Ejibunu recounted the strides made by the unit in combating smuggling and enhancing revenue collection, while also reflecting on the challenges and successes of his tenure.

He revealed that under his leadership, the unit recorded 3,189 seizures with a duty-paid value amounting to N35.9 billion and arrested 386 suspects involved in smuggling activities.

He highlighted major seizures during his tenure to include 222,285 bags of foreign parboiled rice, over 1.1 million liters of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), and significant quantities of prohibited substances such as Indian hemp and tramadol.

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He added that the unit also made strides in trade facilitation, providing escorts for goods on fast tracks and recovering over N2.25 billion through meticulous documentation and demand notices.

Ejibunu further emphasised the unit’s collaborative efforts with community leaders to reduce attacks on officers, a measure that has seen a reduction in violent confrontations.

He acknowledged the sacrifices made by officers, with eight sustaining injuries and five losing their lives in the line of duty during his tenure.

Ejibunu also disclosed that the Unit recovered the sum of N2.25bn through the issuance of demand notices (D/N) due to transfer of value and wrong classification of cargoes.

He expressed gratitude to the management of the Nigeria Customs Service, under the leadership of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, adding that the Unit under his watch enjoyed the morale and logistics support that was needed to succeed.

“My appreciation also goes to the management, officers and men of this Unit for their untiring support, dedication, gallantry and uncompromising posture in the fight against smuggling and revenue recovery.

“You worked both day and night to ensure that the successes we recorded were achieved. Unfortunately, while on legitimate duties within Zone’s area of operations, eight officers sustained different degrees of injuries while five lost their lives in the line of duty; may their souls rest in peace through the mercy of God,” he added.

Meanwhile, the newly deployed CAC of the Unit, Comptroller Kola Oladeji, said he will facilitate legitimate trade as helmsman of the unit.