Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Seme Border Command, has seized over 1000 bags of rice allegedly smuggled into the country by suspected smugglers.
The commodity with a duty paid value (DPV) of N11.7 million was seized by men and officers of the command based on intelligence reports.
The suspected smugglers were said to have heaped the commodity at Kotomeji area of Badagry for onward shipment by road when they were swooped on by some men and officers of the command.
Customs Area Controller (CAC) at Seme Area Command, Comptroller Willy Egbudin, who disclosed this in a statement said: “Ostensibly aware of the implication of being met with their smuggled wares, the suspected smugglers escaped through the water on sighting the arrival of our officers who carried out the operation”.
He disclosed that efforts are being made to arrest and bring persons behind the unlawful act to book by making them face the full wrath of the law as a way of deterring others from smuggling.
According to him, upon assuming duty as CAC, I reminded all my officers of the Comptroller General's zero tolerance for smuggling and other illegalities, while charging them to gear up to the challenges of the yuletide period.
Apparently elated by the seizure, Egbudin said: “My charge to my officers and our combined efforts have paid off. I make bold to say that this is the highest single seizure of rice made by this command this year and we are ready to do more. We are not unaware of the smugglers drive to beat us by applying unusual means, especially as we have efficiently and strategically positioned our men on the bush paths and other likely routes, therefore they chose to ferry in this rice through the waters”.
He warned Nigerians not to ever contemplate using the area under his watch for smuggling as his men and officers are poised to apprehend and prosecute them no matter what it takes.
His words: “This seizure is a direct message to all that are involved in smuggling that they will not only be recording losses at any attempt, but they stand a great chance of going to jail as we are keen on matching seizures with suspects. Whoever wishes to import rice should do that through the seaports as approved by the federal government.
The area controller explained that the anti smuggling functions of NCS was a strategic economic move by the government aimed at protecting our local economy and preventing the influx of prohibited items like arms, ammunition and hard drugs.
According to him, smuggling in products that Nigeria has the capacity to produce locally amounts to inadvertently sustaining employment in countries where the smuggled goods originate as well as keeping our teeming youths out of job.
"Nigeria is a blessed country and we urge that youths and residents of border areas should look inwards to discover the enormous legitimate business and work potentials available as smuggling which runs foul of government extant laws cannot be a viable and sustainable option," he said.