From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Ogun 1 Area Command, says its operatives have intercepted an articulated vehicle loaded with 600 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice.

The truck was intercepted along Ijoun border axis of Ogun State. The Customs Area Controller, Peter Kolo, who disclosed this on Wednesday at the monthly press briefing on the activities of NCS, Ogun 1 Area Command, Idiroko, said the truck with its contents was heading to eastern part of the country.

Kolo said three suspects including the driver of the vehicle were arrested. He added that investigation was ongoing to unravel persons behind the massive smuggling activity.

The Controller disclosed that the command had in March intercepted a truck belonging to the Coca-Cola Bottling Company used to  smuggle contraband into the country.

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On the seizure of contraband made by the command in the month of April, Kolo said 7,000 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice, equivalent of 12 trailer loads were seized.

While noting that smuggling of foreign rice was causing catastrophic damage to the Federal Government’s rice and agricultural policies, the Customs Controller said various quantities of poultry products, Cannabis Sativa (marijuana), vehicles and other means of conveyance, uses clothing and shoes, used tyres, sugar, tomatoes in retail form, body creams and petroleum products made for export, were also seized during the period under review.

According to him, the cumulative duty paid value for the seizures in April amounted to N189,923,293 million.

Kolo, who restated that the FG’s directive on border closure was still subsisting, said a sum of N225,000 was generated from the auction of sales of seized petroleum products and scrap metals, in the month of April.

He, however, declared that men and officers of the command would sustain the onslaught on the smugglers, despite severe attacks being meted out against customs operatives by them and their promoters.