The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit Zone A Lagos has said its operatives are battle ready to counter every form of economic sabotage including smuggling during the ember period of the year, September through December, noting that unrepentant smugglers would feel the heat of the unit’s cutting edge strategies already in place.
Acting Controller of the unit, Deputy Comptroller Hussein Ejibunu who gave the hint during a press briefing to showcase it’s recent anti-smugling records disclosed that the unit intercepted 20 drums of carbide, a chemical substance used in the manufacturing of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
According to him, the chemicals were hidden underneath a truck Intercepted in Ijebu Ode area of Ogun State. Hé explained that there were no suspects arrested in connection with the seizures as the driver fled and abandoned the vehicle upon sighting customs officers on pattol.
A nightmare to smugglers in the South West, Ejibunu said after waiting for two days and without the owner of the vehicle showing up, his operatives opened the sealed trucks only to discovered it was laden with the substance believed to have been imported without proper approval.
According to him, importation of explosive materials is subject to approval from the the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) where an End User Certificate (EUC) is duly issued for the purpose of security monitoring to ensure the materials are used for their intended legitimate purposes.
His words: “On the seized 20 drums of carbide, it is instructive to emphasize that such importation raises concerns of national security. This is because it is a chemical used in the manufacture of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and could cause danger to life and property.
“Allowing things like this chemical into the society uncontrollably, could create serious security challenge for the country. Carbide is flammable, reactive and can cause explosion hazards when mixed with other chemicals and exposed to water or moisture.
“It forms flammable acetylene gas that could be used to endanger lives by lawless persons.This is aside other health hazards, the chemical on exposure can irritate the mouth, nose and throat if not properly handled. Inhaling Calcium Carbide can irritate the lungs” adding:
“Higher exposures may cause a build-up of fluid in the lungs and could lead to emergency medical situation. Its importation is therefore, strictly controlled from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA)”
The unapologetic crime buster said the unit under his watch made total seizures worth N579,412,549 in the month of August 2022, with the arrest of ten suspects in connection with some of the seizures.
Other seizures made in August due to various infractions include 1 x 40ft container with flavour seasoning, falsely declared as auto spare parts; 1 x 40ft container of auto interior accessories, falsely declared as filters/pneumatic transmission; 1 X 40ft container of vegetable oil and foreign parboiled rice, falsely declared as used vehicles; and
1 x 20ft container laden with 21 pallets of tiles, falsely declared as PVC floor tiles/floor bricks.
Others include 1 x 20ft container of Padi Bitters, falsely declared as olive nuts;1 x 20ft container of unprocessed wood, falsely declared as aluminum ingots; 1 x 20ft container of bales of used clothes and shoes, with a used fake seal bearing Dangote Truck label; 5,593 (50kg) bags of foreign parboiled rice (equivalent to 9 trailers truck load); 56,725 litres of premium motor spirit; 375 bales of used clothes; 242 parcels of Indian Hemp and 41 pieces of military camouflage bags.
Revenue receipt recovery made by the unit through duty underpayments, undervaluation and wrong classifications amounted to Fourty-six Million, Two Hundred and Ninety-eight Thousand, Four Hundred and Twenty-two Naira, Fifty Kobo (N46,298,422.50).
Ejibunu attributed the impressive performance to officers and men of the unit motivation and commitment.
“These seizures are a reflection of our commitment to duty and non-compromise in the discharge of our functions; aimed at protecting the nation’s economy and preventing importation of prohibited and harmful products from entering our markets.
“It is our hope that these seizures, recoveries and arrests would serve as deterrent to other smugglers and duty evaders” warning:
“The Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, will not stop making life unbearable for smugglers. We are already intensifying our efforts to continually seize smuggled items, arrest suspected perpetrators and ensure they face diligent prosecution or hand them over to sister agencies where necessary, as enshrined in our laws and standard operating procedures.
“I want to once again warn that, any attempt to violate the provisions of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) CAP C45 2004 LFN, which is our enabling legislation will be met with total resistance on the part of smugglers and duty evaders.
“Our 24 hour round-the-clock patrols are constantly rejigged for efficiency. Our enforcement capability is supported always by impeccable intelligence resulting to the successes we have recorded so far. Nigerians should be assured that we are not in any way going to relent in the discharge of our functions.”
The FOU boss explained that the seized items are at various stages of investigation.