Customs: No Hiding Place For Smugglers

By Stephen Ubanna

Aware that smugglers in the North Central states of Kwara, Niger, home state of a former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army General and Abdulsalami Abubakar, a retired General and who incidentally was a former Head of state, Benue and Kogi are not ready to turn  a  new leaf, may have forced Muhammed Uba Garba, a former Comptroller of Customs, Seme Command , and now Zonal Coordinator Border Drill sector 3, to restrategise   in dealing with them.

The Border Drill, comprising of the Nigerian Immigration Services, NIS, Nigerian Police Force, NPF, Department of State Security Service, DSS, the Nigerian Army and other security agencies , appears to be  yielding result. The most recent is the foreign rice Contraband seizures from the Republic of Benin into the country with a Tiper Concealed with 140 ‘50’ of Foreign rice Concealed in sharp sand .It was a bad signal to the smugglers that no matter the trick adopted to pass with their Contraband goods, particularly, the Foreign rice, in Kwara, Niger, Benue or Kogi, it is obvious the Muhammed Border Drill sector 3 personnel are there for them.

It is not surprising why they have continued to lose multii-Contraband goods into the waiting hands of the Border Drill Operatives in the recent time. Between May and July Thursday, July 8, 2020, the Ilorin based Border Drill sector 3, was said to have raided two warehouses, Babayawo and Ita –Me, located in Ilorin west local government area. The two warehouse had been used in stockpiling and sales of smuggled foreign rice from Benin Republic into the state, particular, the Ilorin west local government area. The Zonal Coordinator disclosed that a total of 450 and 224 bags of ‘50’ rice were discovered in the raided warehouses respectively.

Given an insider information of the Contraband seizures made by the sector between May and July 8, alone, an elated Muhammed said they disposed smugglers of 17,490 ‘50’ bags, equivalent of 29 trailers of load of foreign rice of 600 600 bags each. ‘’Our quest is to sustain the tempo of aiding the government policy in agricultural development in the area of boosting local rice production.’’

Intercepted Truck load Of Rice By Border Drill Sector 3

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had banned the importation of foreign rice through the land border stations on January 1, 2017. The policy was extended to the seaports on June 2017, as the Central Bank of Nigeria stopped rice allowing foreign importers access the Foreign Exchange Market. Note that the ban was also extended to vehicle imports through the land borders. The government says all imports must come through the nation’s seaports. This is may have informed  why the Foreign rice and vehicle smugglers who patronize Benin Terminal and Bollore port in Benin Port are finding it difficult to smuggled their imported rice into the  country because of the tight security.

 Other Contrabands that were said to have been impounded by the Border Drill sector 3, within the period under review include 300 kegs of vegetable oil, one locally made pistol, 944 drums of Automotive Gas Oil, popular, diesel, 676 Jerry cans of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, petrol, of 25 litres each, and 55 bundles of Textile materials, mostly from the Asian country of China. Recall that late May , the Team intercepted two Mitsubishi Canter with Reg. –No.XA-WEL and XC-1666-SUL,respectively  laden with  54 drums of smuggled  petrol  with a DPV N9 million at Babanna border Community in Niger state. Smuggling of Petroleum products in the north central geo- political region, particular, Niger and Kwara, had become more pronounced since June 2019, when Ali, the Comptroller General, on the orders of the Katsina state born Nigerian President closed all the filling stations within 26 Kms to the border Communities. There are indications that two suspects have been arrested in connection with the intercepted 54 drums of petro in Babanna Border Community in Niger state. Many believe that smuggling of petrol, particular, became pronounced with the closure of filling stations 26 Km to the border Communities by Ali, the Comptroller General on the orders of the Katsina state born Nigerian President

Compt. Mohammed: Zonal Coordinator Border Drill Sector 3 And Others

The other Contraband seized by the Team were 29 bags of  Foreign Fertilizer, 66 cartons of  different brands of beer, 67 Units of vehicles, 78 Motor cycles and one Keke Napep. The Headquarter’s Border Drill was said to have also impounded 15 sacks of Used Shoes and 360 tubers of Yam. The Duty Paid Value, DPV, of the seized items, according to Valuation experts is about N1.21 billion.

The anti-smuggling war appear to be getting more fierce in the North Central geo-political region where Muhammed and his men were said to have intensified efforts in dealing  with the  unrepentant smugglers. The Border Drill sector 3  Zonal Coordinator, noted that   proven strategies  in line with best practices in suppressing smuggling  and the unanimous support by the Management and Hameed Ali, the Comptroller General has  enabled the sector to achieve great b great  feats’’.

There is no gain saying the fact that in the execution of the anti-smuggling war in the region, the Border Drill Zonal Coordinator, has ensured that the Operatives comply with the Nigerian Center for Disease and Control, NCDC and the World Health Organisation , WHO, a health agency of the United Nations, UN, on Social Distancing , to curb the spread of the Wuhan Town in Hebei Province of China emerged coronavirus, popular , COVID 19.

In a related development, barely one week after the seizures of scores of cartons of gun catridges and other consumables including rice by enforcement unit of Federal Operation Unit, FOU Zone, it seems that has not deter smugglers if the warning from the Area Controller last Tuesday is anything to go by.

The Area Comptroller of The FOU Zone Olusemire Kayode last Tuesday called on smugglers to desist from their unpatriotic act and turn a new leaf as his men are resolute in their desire to curb smuggling in Zone and bring it to the barest minimum if not total eradication.

He said, a week after the last seizures his men have made further seizures of foreign rice and other items with a total Duty Paid Value ( DPV) of N91 million.

“Despite all efforts and advocacy and plea for people to stop smuggling, see them bringing rice again. We have a trailer containing 670 bags of tomato foreign rice. This time the rice was re-bagged to show that it was Patriot rice from Argungun in Kebbi State whereas it is foreign rice. This shows people will not relent, no matter what you tell them, no matter government policy, they are deviant but we are always one step ahead”.

He decried smugglers activities, stressing that it negatively affects the socio economic wellbeing of the country and vow that Customs will not relent in its mission to suppress smuggling in the zone and protection of our national borders.

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