*intercepts 72 bags of Indian Hemp concealed in bags of garri in Zamfara
*New Nigerian Online Editor, others receive awards
*Comptroller warns smugglers thinking of cashing in on Yuletide to stay off zone
By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The Nigerian Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone B in its renewed drive to save Nigeria’s economy from smuggling and other related issues, has seized items worth over two billion Naira in 2022.
Comptroller FOU Zone B, A.B. Hamisu disclosed this at the end of year press briefing and awards and score card held at is headquarters in Kaduna on Tuesday December 20, 2022.
According to him, compared to 2021 when they made seizures worth N1,319,332,763.00 billion, in 2022, it doubled to N2,345,155,763.00 billion.
He explained that the items seized at different locations of the FOU covering the entire North West and some North Central States of Niger, Kogi, Kwara and FCT, was between January 1 and December 2022.
He attributed the increased number of seizures to motivation, interagency collaboration, intensive patrol and effective intelligence gathering.
“Some of the factors that led to our successes in our anti-smuggling operations in the Year 2022 could be attributed to the following;
i. Motivation and support from the NCS Management in terms of logistics, capacity building and welfare to boost the morale of officers/men ot the Unit.
ii. Intensive patrol, doggedness and Commitment of Officers/men of the Unit as a result of effective performance management.
iii. Effective use of Intelligence, information gathering and surveillance operations in the Zone.
iv. Inter-Ageney collaboration/sharing of intelligence by sister agencies.
v Continued Stakeholders’ engagement especially the traditional rulers as well as other sister agencies within the Zone,” he said.
Comptroller Hamisu disclosed that . three suspects were arrested in connection with some ot these seizures and later released on administrative bail, stressing that the command under his watch shall continue to arrest anyone indulging in smuggling activities within the zone.
“As the Comptroller of the Unit, I would continue to operate an open door policy, give a sense of belonging to all Officers/Men and other Critical stakeholders, as well as instill discipline, for us to better fulfill the Unit’s mandate.
He therefore, warned the smugglers that want to take advantage of the Yuletide sason to stay clear of the Zone.
“I want them to know that our operatives are on red alert and vigilant to tame smuggling activities during the festive period with a view of arresting and prosecuting them.
“It is my humble advice to smuggIers to turn a new leaf and embrace the Federal Government agricultural policy and massive investment in local rice production, so that they can create employment and boost the food security in the country,” he advised.
Comptroller Hamisu explained that the unit has a mandate of suppressing smuggling activities in the zone, as well as translation of Federal Government Fiscal Policies into reality with a view to making the economy l attractive and healthy.
“The action of our operatives are in line with sections 139 (provisions as to detention, seizure and condemnation of goods) and Section 158 (empowers officers to patrol freely) as enshrined in Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap C45 LFN 2004, as amended,” he added.
On the seizures made between November and December 2022, he said that 161 suspected contraband and illicit items worth over N300 million were intercepted.
“Scorecard of the Unit on suppression of smuggling from November to December 2022.
“I want to report that the Operatives of the Unit at various intervals and locations within the Zone, intercepted a total of 161 seizures of various contraband goods within the period under review with the total Duty Paid Value (DPV) of three Hundred and fifty one million, five hundred and eight thousand, six hundred and fifty-eight Naira and fifty-six kobo (#351,508,658.56) only,” he said.
According to him, items seized range from 2,114 50Kg bags of foreign parboiled rice, worth N104,597,231.90m, 126 bales and sacks of foreign second hand clothing, worth N18,820,777.50, 72 sacks of cannabis sativa (Marijuana), 65 numbers of 25Kg bags of foreign parboiled rice, worth N1,608,046.38 million and 818 cartons of foreign spaghetti, macaroni & couscous, valued at N5,943,964.28 million.
Others are, eight units of means of conveyance (vehicles) valued at N59,162,337.00, 102 cartons of foreign Carotone Body Cream (N15M, 235,867.5m), 102 cartons of foreign Eva Soap (N6,279,732,.00m), 69 pieces of 5 litres of foreign vegetable oil (N848,010.00 thousand), as well as other items, including sacks of foreign used shoes, tomato paste, 13 sacks of Hides and skin (ponmo), 113 bundles of foreign textile, 10 cartons of foreign chewing gum and seven 25kg bags of flour.
The rest are, 55 pieces of foreign used tyres, 438 25 litres of petrol and 87 50kg bags of foreign fertilizer.
Meanwhile, he informed that the spectacular seizure of 72 sacks of Cannabis Sativa (Marijuana) brought to the fore another trick by smugglers and means of concealment.
“In this case, the smuggler concealed the Marijuana inside sacks of cassava flour (popularly known as Garri). The Operatives of the Unit with the aid of informant intercepted the Marijuana along SoKoto-Zamtara axis and brought it to the office.
“The Marijuana would be handed over to the Commandant National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NLDLEA) Kaduna State Command today on the spirit of Inter-agency collaboration,” he said.
The Comptroller on behalf of the FOU commended the Comptroller General Of Customs (CGC) and his Management team for the motivation and support to the unit in discharge of its mandate, while appreciating the support of other security agencies, traditional rulers and other critical stakeholders, including the media.
In his response, the representative of NDLEA after the seized 72 bags of Indian Hemp were handed over to the agency, CSN Narcotics, Haruna Usman Danga thanked the Customs Service.
He described the feat as remarkable, adding that the interagency collaboration is yeilding more fruits.
Earlier, Comptroller A.B. Hamisu in his welcome address, commended stakeholders for ensuring their activities were successful throughout 2022.
He said critical stakeholders that have ensured their success are being awarded to motivate them to doing more.
The awards were presented in four categories, including officers, stakeholders, neighbours and general officers, while the fifth category, featured the adhoc staff at the office.
Officer of the year was claimed by ASC 1 K. Ahmed, who was described as on officer who always delivers tasks given him, while Officer of Month, went to BSC Bello Umar.
Journalists presented with awards, included the Online Editor of New Nigerian Newspapers, Jacob Onjewu Dickson, with the Comptroller describing the media outfit as a pride to the North and Nigeria.
Others are, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Chairman Kaduna State, Asmau Halilu Yawo of VON, Mohammed Ibrahim Yaba, Daily Trust, Isaiah Benjamin of Leadership Newspapers, Husseini Mohammed of Vision FM, Rabo Haladu of Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo, Sawura Jibril Maidoki of KSMC, Husseina Yakubu of NAN, Mohammed Bashir Abdulrahman of Freedom Radio, Moses Abimaje of AIT, and others.
For stakeholders presented awards, Motor Dealers Association of Nigeria Kaduna State, petty traders, fuel stations, motor mechanics and others were honoured.
Similarly, Mrs. Hannatu James Kanyip was awarded.
Several other officers of FOU Zone B were presented with certificates and commendation letters, including an adhoc Staff, Mr. John Ayo Davies.