A member of a gang of smugglers responsible for the death of two Customs officers in September in Ogun State has been arrested inside a shrine in Yewa area of the state where he had gone to perform some ritual against his arrest.
This is even as another suspect who had fled into Benin Republic after the killing of another set of Customs officers in October, was also arrested in the early hours of today.
Addressing newsmen on Thursday on the arrest, the acting Controller of the Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Comptroller, Hussein Ejibunu also reeled out the number of seizures made by the Unit in the last five weeks.
According to the FOU Zone A Controller, “On the 22nd of October, 2021, we all gathered in this hall as I read my address that covered our second Press briefing after which I took you round to see things for yourself. Today, lots more have been intercepted and seized thereby setting the stage once again for this Press briefing.
“This period of the year usually has the tradition of springing high-level smuggling activities all over the country with particular reference to South West Zone that I superintend. Being very much aware of the foregoing known facts, this unit proactively marshalled out strategies to put the activities of smugglers in Check. The application of these strategies, which for security reasons are not to be made public, provoked the avalanche of seizures to be showcased today.
“I must unequivocally state that the smugglers themselves keep devising new tactics to beat our operatives to it, inclusive of readiness to eliminate officers. We are never deterred by their antics. We remain committed to the mandate given to us by the Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC) – Colonel Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) and his Management.
The tremendous support the Unit has enjoyed and is still enjoying cannot be overemphasized.
“Just two weeks ago, the CGC provided 16 new operational Hilux vehicles for the Unit; a Largesse that has never been enjoyed by the Unit. Besides the provision of operational vehicles, the CGC pays very close attention to the performance of the Unit which has translated into always sending Letters of Commendation to the Unit. Of course, to whom much is given, much is expected. The spirit of officers at the moment is quite high as expressed in the following seizure:
“13,342 bags of 50kg smuggled parboiled rice; 3,696 pieces and 175 sacks of used shoes with the Chinese language; 285 cartons of Basmatic rice; 464 cartons of Tomato paste;
1,009 cartons of expired Chinese drinks; 694 bales of secondhand clothing; 5,413 cartons of Medicaments without NAFDAC Numbers or Certification; 907 kilograms of Indian hemp (Cannabis sativa); 1,224 cartons of frozen poultry products; 148 pieces of used compressor; 5x20ft containers of wood – rough and semi-processed wood meant for export which causes deforestation in Nigeria;
2x40ft containers of charcoal – meant for export and bring about deforestation as well;
1,111 kegs of PMS at 25 litres each – meant to be smuggled to neighbouring countries thereby creating artificial fuel scarcity in Nigeria; 177 kegs of vegetable oil at 25 litres each; 231 pieces of used tyres; 56 units of used fridges; 28 units of used motorcycles; 59 vehicles used as means of conveyance, among others with a total Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N2,826,486,890 only.
“In the recovery of lost revenues, the revenue generated within the period under review through our interventions is put at N104,377,682.25.
“The aforementioned seizures are informed by sheer contraventions of relevant extant laws and for purposes of public enlightenment, the Federal Government has since banned the importation of rice across land borders. Under Schedule 4 of the Common External Tariff which covers Absolute Prohibition List of goods by importation, Second-hand clothing falls on Item 17. Under Schedule 3 which is Revised Import Prohibition List, Used tyre is under Item 16, Frozen Poultry Product is on Item 1, Vegetable Oil on Item 4 and unprocessed wood for export fall under Schedule 6 Item 4.
“For any contravention of the extant laws, Customs officers are empowered to seize under Sections 46 and 64 of CEMA.
Section 47 of CEMA also empowers Customs officers to prosecute offenders and sentence them to 5 years in jail without an option of a fine.
In the period under review, a total of 41 suspects were arrested, 23 of whom were granted Administrative Bail while 18 are still in our custody.
“Gentlemen of the Press, we are not unaware of the desperation of these daredevil smugglers to bring in contrabands using various available options at their disposal. Our operatives in the field have a well thought out strategies to nip their activities in the bud. We can only continue to advise them in the spirit of patriotism to eschew smuggling and embrace genuine means of livelihood.
“I will not end this address without drawing the attention of the public to the arrest of 2 prime suspects of the killers of our driver and officers between 11th September and 26th of October, 2021, respectively. While one was arrested on the 11th of November, 2021 in a shrine in his house in Yewa axis of Ogun State, the other was arrested in the early hours of today.
“The one arrested in a shrine was dressed in red clothing with a cock in his hand and reciting incantation as at the time of his arrest. The importance of this message is that smugglers will no longer kill any of our officers and get away with it, no matter how long it will take us to get them.”