The Acting Comptroller Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’, DC Hussein Ejibunu, has revealed that 2022 was a period of sustained anti-smuggling onslaught, zero compromise for duty evasion, and diligent facilitation of trade.
Ejibunu made this known while briefing newsmen on the activities of the Unit for the year
He said the Unit prosecuted its core mandates without fear or favor, while also preventing loss of government revenue by uncovering attempts at evading duties.
In his words: “We prosecuted our core mandates without fear or favor in the six states of the South-West namely: Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, and Ondo states, even in the face of resistance, attacks, and tricks in the mode of concealment, we were duty bound to carry out our responsibilities. I am glad to report that we shook the smuggling world within our area of responsibility.”
“This Unit also prevented loss of government revenue as our assigned position of being a layer of check uncovered attempts at evading duties. We recovered the discovered shortfalls through the issuance of demand notices (DN)”, he stressed.
“We did all these at the expense of our lives placing national interest ahead of any narrow or personal gain. It is sad to note that some of our officers paid the supreme price last year when they got killed by smugglers. For us, they are the heroes of the anti-smuggling battle and they will never be forgotten”, he assured.
Giving details of dead officers in 2022, he said “on a sad note, four of our officers namely: Inspectors of Customs TP Astor, and A Onwueguzie, and Assistant Inspectors of Customs, Musa, R and Bristol, E lost their lives in active service while confronting smugglers last year.
While we frowned at such murderous acts; we also ensured that those behind some of the killings were arrested to face justice”, he noted.
On anti-smuggling, the Acting Comptroller said, the Unit made a total seizure of smuggled items with a duty paid value of N13,908,575,435.5.
He said, aside from protecting the national economy, some of the seizures achieved protection of citizens’ health because dangerous, expired, and harmful products were prevented from being smuggled into the country.
The items seized were foreign parboiled rice, vehicles, drugs, textiles, petroleum products, and other items in the import and export prohibition lists.
Ejibunu said rice topped the list of seizures in terms of volume. The unit seized 93,102 X 50kg which amounts to about 156 trailer loads of rice. He revealed that the newly constructed warehouse had an overflow of seized rice.
“A total number of 108 automobiles comprising of trucks, tankers, cars, and motorcycles were also seized as smuggled items and means of conveyance of smuggled items.
According to him, illicit drugs seized within the year under review were; 2,354 kg and 4,976 tablets of Cannabis sativa, 233 cartons X 225 milligrams, and 82 packs X 225 milligrams of Tramadol.
For petroleum products, the Unit seized 656,414 liters of premium motor spirit (PMS); that is, about 20 tanker loads of fuel from economic saboteurs”, he added.
“We arrested 176 smuggling suspects last year, 7 secured convictions, 14 were charged to court and are at various stages of investigation and prosecution, 7 suspects are in detention; 2 suspects were handed over to NDLEA, and 1 suspect was handed over to the Nigerian Police respectively, while 151 are on administrative bail”, he said.
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