…arrests 6 suspects
By Ahmed Ajikobi
In its fight against smuggling in the state, the North Central Zone of the Nigerian Customs Service, Kwara Command, has confiscated items and goods worth over N135m.
The smuggled items included five long single barrel guns, 57 vehicles of various brands, 1,355 bags of foreign rice, twenty bags of dried yam flour of 1000 kg, 1,728 jerry cans of PMS and engine oil, 155 drums of petroleum products and lubricant oil.
Other sized items included Bajaj motorcycles allegedly used in smuggling of rice, 12 bales of secondhand clothing and textile materials, 68 jerry cans of groundnut oil of 25 litres, 322 cartons of foreign cosmetics and 9 cartons of tin tomatoes from different locations.
The Kwara coordinator of the Joint Border Operations Drill (JBOP), Comptroller Mohammed Uba Garba revealed this to newsmen at the press briefing on the activities of the sector on Wednesday held at its premises.
According to him, the border closure policy of the federal government has increased the revenue generation for the country with the closure of illegal routes which has forced smugglers to bring in goods through approved routes and pay appropriate duties.
He stated that part of the reasons the government banned importation of rice through the land borders was to encourage local farming, secure national borders and boosts the foreign exchange of the country.
He said the land border closure has further reduced drastically the daily consumption of petroleum products in Nigeria adding that with the arrangement, synergy between security agencies has increased through exchange of ideas.
“It has reduced smuggling, enhances productivity of locally made goods and helps in tackling security challenges like banditry, kidnapping, smuggling, cattle rustling and illegal migrants. It has also increased revenue generation, reduction of daily consumption of petroleum product due to blockage of illegal exportation based on statistics obtained.
“We will continue to dialogue, engage, sensitize and educate the public for the reasons behind border closure which is aimed at social and economic stability of our dear nation”, he noted.
…says rice, petrol now being smuggled in caskets
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says contraband goods are still being found in the country because some smugglers import rice using gas cylinders and caskets.
Public Relations Officer of the service, Joseph Attah said on Wednesday that most smugglers use unapproved routes to bring in their contraband goods into the country.
“People often ask where were customs operatives when contraband goods entered the country without being stopped.
“We have seen a situation where rice is smuggled using gas cylinders or a situation where spare tyres are used, the tyre is perforated and rice is loaded inside and when you open the booth you see what is supposed to be a tyre.
“If you do not have tip-off, you are not likely to know that inside that spare tyre are 10 or 15 mudus (measures) of foreign rice.
“Also smugglers now use caskets to either smuggle rice or petrol. They sometimes load petro in jerry cans and put it inside a casket, wrapped in such a way that you think they are carrying a dead body.
“A situation like this, if you don’t have intelligence, you wouldn’t know. For instance, without tip-off, it is unlikely as a human being to accost a vehicle carrying a casket with a supposed dead body and request for such to be opened.
“If people with all these tricks succeed and escape, their smuggled items are what you find in shops, markets and houses.”
He added that smugglers’ actions were meant to sabotage the economy and the security of the country and assured that the service was determined and committed to checking that.
In November 2019, the federal government suspended fuel distribution to communities close to the country’s land borders to stem the smuggling of refined petrol to other countries.
The NNPC had said fuel stations in these communities are being used for smuggling as Nigeria’s subsidised petrol is cheaper than those of neighbouring West African countries.
At present, the country’s land borders are closed to check the smuggling of food items and arms.