In a press briefing at the unit’s headquarters in Ikeja, the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), revealed on Wednesday that contraband valued at N10.39 billion was intercepted between January and December 2023.

Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Hassan Ejibunu, informed journalists that the unit confiscated 1,119 contraband items in the South-West during the reviewed year. The intercepted items included 139 trucks (equivalent to 83,170 bags) of foreign parboiled rice, 13,706 25-litre kegs of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), 8,372 kg of Indian Hemp, 2,942 pieces of tires, 2,153 bales of used clothes, and 3,095 cartons of frozen poultry.

Other seized items comprised 320 cartons of illicit drugs, 15 pieces of bulletproof jackets, 15 pieces of jack knives, and 68 pieces of military camouflage. Additionally, the unit confiscated 450 drums of 106 kg of carbide, 1 X 40 ft, and 2 X 20 ft containers filled with charcoal, as well as 132 units of foreign-used vehicles.

Ejibunu stated, “Last year, we made 1,119 seizures worth a total duty paid value of N10,395,123,943, consisting of rice, vehicles, marijuana, tramadol, used tires, poultry products, footwear, petroleum products, etc.” He highlighted that 136 suspected smugglers were arrested and faced charges in court.

The Customs official added that 16 individuals were convicted through the Federal High Courts for offenses such as improper importation, assault on Customs officers, possession of foreign parboiled rice, and possession of Pangolin scales meant for export. He emphasized the unit’s commitment to following up diligently on pending court cases in 2024.

Ejibunu also disclosed that the unit recovered N851.7 million in revenue through meticulous document checking, identifying shortfalls in duty payments and issuing demand notices. He cautioned importers to comply, warning of the consequences for noncompliant individuals who could lose their investments.

Addressing attacks on officers, he warned, “We shall lawfully arrest and prosecute any individual involved in the attack of our officers who are discharging their legitimate responsibilities.” Ejibunu assured that the unit’s efforts to prevent smuggling would intensify in the coming year, emphasizing the commitment to making seizures, arrests, and prosecutions according to the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023.

Finally, he expressed gratitude to the Comptroller-General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, and other stakeholders for their support and cooperation in the fight against smuggling.

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