The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Western Marine Command (WMC) has intercepted 32 sacks of Cannabis Sativa with a street value of N168 million.
The Command’s Controller, Comptroller Abubakar Umar, who made this disclosure on Thursday during his maiden media briefing on the command’s activities from February to May this year in Lagos, said the Command intercepted the item on March 30 at about 3.30 p.m. on a boat at Oko-Aja beach.
Umar said the goods were brought to the WMC and following physical examination, it was found out that there were 32 sacks containing 2,520 pieces of cannabis sativa which weighing 1,437kg.
The Comptroller explained: “Since my assumption of duty in the command as the area controller on Feb. 21, I have together with my officers/men ensured that no stone is left unturned in achieving my mandate and that of the command.
“This is to ensure that smuggling is nipped in the bud along the South Western Waterways and creeks, which is the jurisdiction of the Command. This is a case of absolute prohibition and contravenes Section 24(b) of CEMA Cap C45 LFN 2004 as amended”, Umar added.
He further explained that following the approval of the Comptroller General of Customs, the seized contrabands would be handed over to the Commander, Marine Unit of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) as part of part of the existing inter-agency collaboration between the NCS and the NDLEA.
The Comptroller said that on April 7 at about 7.30 p.m., operatives of the Command, along Badagry waterways, intercepted and seized one wooden boat laden with foreign parboiled rice suspected to be smuggled from Benin Republic.
According to him, the smuggled foreign rice and its means of conveyance were brought to the Command for examination and on physical examination it was found to be 503 bags of foreign parboiled rice.
Umar further disclosed that in a related development, on May 25, at about 7.00 p.m., the Command also intercepted and arrested two wooden boats laden with foreign parboiled rice at Oniru Beach, adding that the boats and the smuggled foreign parboiled rice were 136 bags.
Giving more insights into the operations of the Command during the review period, the Comptroller further hinted that 828 bags of smuggled parboiled rice from Benin Republic with a Duty Paid Value of N29, 684,000 were seized by the operatives of the command.
Similarly, Umar said the operatives at different locations in Idiroko, Badagry, Bar-Beach and Sea side intercepted different smuggled items, which contravened Sections 46(c), 167 and 169 of CEMA Cap C45 LFN 2004 as amended and listed the seized items as: foreign parboiled rice concealed in 35 Jerry cans of vegetable oil; 30 kegs of premium motor spirit (PMS) 8 Kegs of vegetable oil; 8 packs of spaghetti noodles.
Others seized items by the Command are 250 sachets of pepper onion tomato, 71 pairs of second hand shoes, 10 sacks of second hand clothings, four boats and two engines as means of conveyance, all with DPV of N190, 145,500.
The Comptroller explained that the PMS seized, due to its nature, was auctioned by the Command with the approval of headquarters, and that the amount generated had been remitted to the federation accounts.
He said the action of the operatives was in line with the Provisions of Section 149 (Powers to search vehicles/ships and Section 158 (Power to Patrol Freely) of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap C45 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 as amended.
Umar, who lamented that no arrest was made during the operations as the smugglers dived into waters and escaped, the Comptroller said the seizures were made possible due to the commitment of officers, effective use of intelligence, information gathering, surveillance operations, inter-agency collaboration and intensive patrol of the creeks/waterways.
He expatiated: “Despite successes, we are poised to strengthening the existing collaboration between the command and other sister agencies to achieve greater efficiency and curb the menace of smuggling along the South Western waterways and creeks.
“Smugglers and would-be smugglers are urged to abandon their unlawful trade as the command will soon catch up with them and their illegal wares, with a view to arresting and prosecuting them.
“It is better for them to turn a new leaf and embrace legitimate trade, so that they can also contribute their quota to the Gross Domestic Product of the Nigerian economy”, Umar added.