From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja
THE Federal Operations Unit of the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS) on Tuesday, said it intercepted a COVID-19 branded vehicle used to smuggle frozen chicken into the country from Benin republic.
The FOU is an anti-smuggling arm of the service saddled with the responsibility of suppressing smuggling in the six states of the South-West.
According to the unit’s Area Comptroller Usman Yahaya, the vehicle was arrested along Ijebu ode expressway, Ogun State while moving under the guise of essential commodities.
Yahaya who spoke through the Public Relations Officer, Jerry Attah disclosed that they were intercepted based on intelligence available to officers on routine patrol at the axis.
“The officers were professional enough to intercept the vehicle which was believed to be used in the movement of essential commodities but was surprised to see that it was used for illegal activities such as movement of contraband.
“We have arrested the vehicle and investigation has commenced to get to the root and unravel other atrocities that may have been committed using the essential duty tag.
Also, he said within the space of four months January-April, the unit has intercepted various contrabands worth N12.7billion.
He said 25 units of fairly used vehicles worth N108 million, 5,644 cartons of frozen chicken worth N54.1million were intercepted, 9,843 bags of 50kg smuggled parboiled rice worth N130.4 million and sacks of textile materials worth N94 million were seized in the month under review.
Others are, N14million worth of used tyre, 3,764 kegs of smuggled vegetables oil worth N69.2 million, 8,365 litres of smuggled petrol also known as (PMS) and AGO also known as Diesel worth N35million.
“We won’t relent on our anti-smuggling fight especially at this time the government is preaching diversification into the agric sector due to the fall in price of oil in the international market which has affected the government’s revenue base.
“So, we will ensure that smuggling is reduced to the nearest minimum and not allowed to fester as that could be injurious to our economy and wellbeing as a country,” he said.
He further disclosed that a total of N1.14billion was paid through the unit,into the Treasury Single Account of the federal government from Debit Note (DN) on intercepted containers from Lagos seaport, voluntary payment of Customs duty on vehicles, auction sales from PMS among others.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2019 ordered an indefinite closure of all its land borders with neighboring countries to address the menace of smuggling and boost local rice production in the country.