Comptroller Hussein Ejibunu, in charge of Federal Operations Unit Zone A, has promised to intensify the battle against smuggling within the zone in 2024.
He stated that the unit will not relent in making seizures, arrests, and prosecuting criminals who contravene the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023.
Ejibunu, during a press briefing at the unit’s Headquarters in Ikeja on Wednesday, 10 January 2024, warned smugglers to desist from attacking officers, explaining that no attacker of Customs personnel would be spared from facing the full wrath of the law.
“Let me put it on record that we shall lawfully arrest and prosecute any individual involved in the attack of our officers who are discharging their legitimate responsibilities. If they don’t desist from their criminal ways, this year will be tougher for them because they will lose their investments and freedom when arrested,” he emphasized.
Comptroller Ejibunu disclosed that the unit also made 1,119 seizures worth a total duty-paid value of N10,395,123,943, comprising rice, vehicles, marijuana, tramadol, used tyres, poultry products, footwear, petroleum products, and others.
He reiterated that the most prominent of the seizures is foreign parboiled rice, which amounted to 139 trailer loads (83,170 bags of 50kg).
Other seizures include 13,706 kegs of 25 liters PMS; 8,372 kg of Indian Hemp; 2,942 pieces of tires; 2,153 bales of used clothes; 3,095 cartons of frozen poultry; 320 cartons of illicit drugs; 15 pieces of bulletproof jackets; 15 pieces of jack knives; 68 pieces of military camouflage; 450 drums X 106 kg of carbide; 1 X 40 ft and 2 X 20 ft containers found to contain charcoal and 132 units of foreign-used vehicles.
Ejibunu pointed out that sixteen people were convicted through the Federal High Courts for committing offenses of improper importation, assault on Customs officers, being in possession of foreign parboiled rice, and for being in possession of Pangolin scales meant for export.
He said some other smuggling-related cases instituted in the courts are at various stages of prosecution and would be followed up diligently.
The unit head noted that “this year 2024, we shall continue, through our legal seat, to follow all pending court cases to logical conclusions.”
In the same vein, the unit said it was able to recover a total of N851,719,905.01 as revenue through meticulous document checking.
“We were able to identify shortfalls in duty payments from which demand notices were issued, and accurate revenue was recovered,” he concluded.