The Federal Operations Unit of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Zone A, Lagos made series of seizures with total duty paid value of Six Hundred and Twenty-two Million, Four Hundred and Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Eighty-six Naira (₦622,407,586).
Disclosing this on Wednesday at a press briefing, Acting Controller of the unit, Hussein K. Ejibunu said, “the month of September was one that the Zone dealt onslaught on smugglers and their collaborators.
“September marked the end of third quarter leading us closer to the end of the year when smugglers show more desperation.
“The unit made series of seizures with total duty paid value of Six Hundred and Twenty-two Million, Four Hundred and Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Eighty-six Naira (₦622,407,586).
“In our efforts to prevent losses to government, we also recovered the sum of One Hundred and Seven Million, Eight Hundred and Sixteen Thousand, Six Hundred Twenty-two Naira, Seventy-five Kobo (N107,816,622.75) for the period under review.
“Chief among the September seizures was a massive discovery of bales of 1,955 bales of used clothing in an abandoned building around the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex.
“We made the discovery and evacuation using combined strategies of intelligence, tact and enforcement.
“Also within the same period, a large cache of premium motor spirit (PMS) ingeniously concealed inside sacks was intercepted at the Badagry Axis of Lagos State.
“Other seizures recorded within the same period are: 7,328 x 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice, 121,550 litres of premium motor spirit, 68 cartons of frozen poultry, 37 crates of eggs used to conceal rice, 150 kg parcels of Indian Hemp, 10 pieces of military Camouflage bags, Six units of used cars (Tokunbo), I unit of pump action rifle, 2 units of locally made guns and 35 live cartridges.
“Five suspects were arrested in connection with some of the seizures mentioned above.
“Interestingly, the Federal High Court passed three judgements in favor of this Unit on three criminal cases; securing the conviction of six people for being in possession of smuggled goods.
“While six civil suits against the Unit were dismissed for lack of merit.
“This is the highest single seizure of used clothing made by the service this year, and we have commenced investigation to know those behind this massive importation, and at what entry point these clothes came into the country.
“Used clothing in commercial quantity falls under absolute prohibition.
They have been seized and we are on the trail of the smugglers to get them arrested.
“Smuggling of used clothes has economic and health implications on our people.
The government in it’s wisdom wants the local textile industry to enjoy protection and create more jobs for Nigerians from the cotton farms through the textile and garment factories to our markets.
“The very serious health implication of this act of textile smuggling is exposure of users to skin diseases like scabies and fungal diseases which can be transmitted by wearing unwashed second-hand clothes.
“This is coming at a time when the world is wary of monkey pox whose mode of transmission includes clothing.
“According to a World Health Organization fact-sheet, “Monkeypox” is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus.
“Monkeypox virus” is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.
“It is a viral zoonotic disease that occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of central and west Africa and is occasionally exported to other regions”.
The anti-smuggling czar added, “For the seized petroleum products, we have gotten them safely disposed due to their volatile nature.
I want to advise patriotic members of border communities through which petrol is smuggled to report to us for timely interception, seizure and arrests.
“These quantities of petroleum products in the hands of smugglers could burn down communities and endanger lives and property in the event of fire.
“We are aware that smugglers desperation rises towards the yuletide period. In view of this, we are strategizing ahead of them, not only to seize their wares but also to arrest and make them face prosecution.
“Presently, there is full deployment of our manpower and logistics to achieve our goals.
We are very grateful to the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali and his management team; who made our exploits possible because of his support, encouragement and provision”.