The Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Ikeja, says it recently voided an attempt by smugglers to leverage on the Coronavirus pandemic to smuggle frozen chicken into the country. The smuggling vessel labeled with COVID-19 sticker meant for essential duty was intercepted and seized by the FOU officers and men.
Besides the ‘COVID-19 frozen fish,’ the unit also said it intercepted other contraband items worth over N12.7billion from January to April 2020 as disclosed by the Public Relations Officer of the unit, Jerry Attah, in a press release..
According to the statement, the COVID-19 labeled vehicle loaded with cartons of frozen chicken came into the country from Benin Republic and was intercepted along Ijebu Ode expressway.
Speaking on the interception, the Customs Area Controller of the Unit, Usman Yahaya, was quoted saying, “the vehicle was intercepted along Ijebu-ode expressway. Our officers intercepted the vehicle based on intelligence. The eagle-eyes of the officers caught the vehicle while on routine patrol at that axis.
‘’The officers were professional enough to intercept the vehicle believed to be used in moving essential commodities but was surprise to see that it was used for illegal activity, such as conveying contraband.
“We have seized the vehicle and investigation has commenced to get to the root of the matter. Also, to unravel other atrocities that may have been committed using the essential duty tag.”
However, speaking on the activities of the unit in the last four months, the CAC said contraband worth over N12.7 billion were intercepted from January to April 2020.
According to him, “the Unit also paid a whopping N1.14 billion into the Treasury Single Account of the Federal Government from Debit Note (DN) on intercepted containers from Lagos seaport, voluntary payment of Customs duty on vehicles and auction sales from petrol, among others.”
The breakdown of the seizures is as follows: 25 units of fairly used vehicles worth N108million, 5,644 cartons of frozen chicken worth N54.1million, 9,843 bags of 50kg smuggled parboiled rice worth N130.4 million and sacks of textile materials worth N94million. Others are, N14million worth of used tyre, 3,764 kegs of smuggled vegetables oil worth N69.2 million, 8,365 litres of smuggled petrol also known as (PMS) and AGO also known as diesel worth N35million.”
‘’We won’t relent on our anti-smuggling fight, especially at this time the government is preaching diversification into agriculture due to the fall of crude oil prices in the international market, which has affected government revenue. So, we will ensure that smuggling is curtailed in all ramifications, in order to promote economic growth and development,” said the Customs boss.