The Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, the Nigeria Customs Service, has said that 103 suspects were arrested by the unit in connection with the N7.116bn worth of contraband products between January and June, 2022.
The Acting Customs Area Controller in charge of the unit, Hussein Ejibunu, said this while addressing journalists recently at the unit in Lagos on the sidelines of the review of its half-year activities.
Giving details of the seized contrabands, he said, “They included: 45, 928 bags of foreign parboiled rice of 50kg each, which is equivalent to 77trailer loads; 265, 830 liters of Premium Motor Spirit; 2933 bales of used clothes; 233 cartons of Tramadol 225 mg each and 83packs of 225mg; 65 units of used vehicles; 14, 784 pieces of used tyres; 119 units of used motorcycles; 3659.o5kg of Indian Hemp and 277 cartons of expired alcoholic drinks.”
He said that a total of N577. 853bn was collected as revenue derived from underpayment within the period under review.
Ejibunu also said that with the period under review, one officer lost his life while 77 of the arrested suspects were granted bail. Also, 16 of them were still in the custody of the unit, he said.
He explained that some of the arrested suspects were released because he would not want anyone to suffer for what they did not know.
“We have granted bail to about 77 of these suspects because of the fact that we didn’t want anyone, who is not a party to the crime, to suffer for what he didn’t do. After proper and diligent investigation, if it is discovered that an individual has no input at all in smuggling, then we let the person go. Those ones that have questions to answer are about 16 and they are still with us.
“We also arrested four tankers who will be undergoing investigations. They were carrying PMS and black oil. But from that level, what is happening now is diversion everywhere, pure diversion for smuggling purposes. I just mentioned that we were still investigating,” he said, noting that tanker drivers sometimes discharged fuel in the bush and would run away upon sighting Customs’ officers.
The FOU boss lamented shortage of space for seized goods. “The major challenge we are having is lack of space. If you want to confirm what I am saying now, someone should go to our former correspondent office. There, you will find out that there is rice everywhere.”