Area A of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said the fight against smuggling is becoming more intense and fierce due to the increase in crime, smugglers being more determined than ever to confront the agents on patrol, even without provocation.
The Unit’s Acting Comptroller, Hussein Ejibunu, who revealed it by displaying seized items worth N767 million, said 23 suspects were arrested at various times in connection with smuggling activities in March 2022.
Ejibunu, who also revealed that the command had collected 89 million naira in revenue during the period, disapproved of the recalcitrant behavior of the smugglers to often engage in illegal activities.
He said five of the arrested suspects had been granted administrative bail, while 18 others were in various stages of investigation ahead of likely prosecution.
Ejibunu said the unit also declared an attack on illegal bunkering activities, which is evident in the seizure of petroleum products by a designated team.
He further condemned the horrific killing of a customs inspector by suspected smugglers in Ogun state in the line of duty, saying the long arm of the law will catch up with those killers who dumped the body of the murdered officer in a pit.
The Comptroller said three arrests were made in connection with the murder, along with 78 bags of contraband parboiled rice weighing 50kg each and six motorbikes also seized.
He said last month that a patrol team discovered several rice barns in thick bush behind the Dangote cement factory in Ogun state, noting that the discovery, which was made overnight , had triggered gunfire from smugglers directed at officers.
He said officers evacuated 845 bags of foreign parboiled rice to the station in the morning.
Ejibunu said another attack took place in the Ibarapa area of Oyo state after he seized 105 bags of foreign parboiled rice weighing 50 kg each.
He said that during that attack, which was repelled, a fleeing smuggler dropped his locally made pump-action shotgun with four rounds, which the team brought to the station.
He added that in the same vein, smugglers again attacked a team that intercepted two Toyota Camry vehicles loaded with 86 bags of smuggled parboiled rice weighing 50 kg each along the Owode/Idiroko road in the State of Ogun.
The controller said the team not only secured the seizure but also repelled the assailants during which one of them was shot in the leg and arrested with his gun and cutlass.
He noted that the fight against smuggling would always be reinvigorated to keep pace with economic protection and prevent dangerous goods from entering the country through any entry point in the South West.
Ejibunu added that the smugglers will always face a fierce confrontation as the unit will never be deterred by the attacks and the recent killing of an officer in the line of duty.