Onne Customs Intercepts Containers of Arms, Ammunition, Drugs worth N13. 91billion

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By Innocent Orok

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Onne Command in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has recorded a major feat in its anti- smuggling drive.

Briefing journalists on Monday at the Onne Customs Command, Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi said barely few weeks he held same briefing of seizures of Arm and Ammunition and drugs at the Tin Can Island Port, in Lagos State, another “attempts by criminal elements seeking to exploit our trade facilitation friendly posture to compromise our processes and procedures. with our robust Risk Management System.

“We have always remained a step ahead of their moves. When these attempts revolve around revenue generation, our automated audit systems at different level enable us to trace, track and recover the revenue. However, when efforts are geared towards creating actions that will produce irreversible consequences on national security, our alert level is elevated to match the threats posed to us.

“And so it was the case with this 1X40 foot container MAEU165396, which originated from Turkey, and based on a number of risk factors, became a subject of interest. We had followed its sail across the continents, as we benefitted immensely from credible information produced through our collaboration with the intelligence communities, both at the local, national and international levels.

“Working within our local structures, we followed diligently as the importer attempted to circumvent our procedure through the outlet of a Private Bonded Terminal. Consequently, on Friday, 21 June 2024, the suspicious container was subjected to thorough physical examination.,”

The Customs CG said the examination result revealed the following alarming contents: 844 units of rifles, 112,500 pieces of live ammunition.

The breakdown of the seizures were given as follows: 764 units of Tomahawk Jojef Magnum Black Pump Action Rifles,
10 units of VC Verney Caron Gunmakers Jojef Magnum Silver Pump Action Rifles,
50 units of VC Verney Caron Gunmaker Double Barrel Rifles, 20 units of VC Verney Caron Gunmaker Single Barrel Rifles and Exclusive Series, Sterling High-Quality Live Ammunition 34g – 25 Plastic Shotgun Shells (70MM).

The Customs boss said ” The rifles and ammunition were concealed using various items such as doors, furniture, plumbing fittings, and leather bags. The duty-paid value of the container is ₦4,171,710,000.00.

“In connection with this, we have three suspects in our custody after securing a detention warrant from a competent court of justice. Furthermore, a thorough investigation is ongoing to ensure all those involved face the full wrath of the law”, he said.

In another development, CGC Adeniyi said “our officers, through synergy, collaboration, and intelligence sharing, on Saturday, 29 June 2024, intercepted yet another 8×40-foot container on transit to a bonded warehouse from Onne Port. The container numbers are TCKU6879285, CMAU5985012,CMAU7515384,CMAU4297020,SEKU5488437,BMOU4363156,MRKU4616024, and MRSU3068928. Upon examination, they were found to contain the following:
Six containers laden with:
1,050,000 bottles of CSC Cough Syrup with Codeine (100ml), 3,500,000 tablets of Trodol Benzhexol Tablets (5mg).”

The Duty Paid Value of the containers stood ₦9,600,000,000.While the other two containers laden with 720 bales of used clothes
was valued at ₦144,000,000.
The total Duty-Paid Value of the nine containers amount to ₦13,915,710,000.

Adeniyi said in line with the provisions of the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023, the following decisions have been taken with respect to the containers:

“The 40-footer container of evil, bearing 844 units of assorted Rifles and 112,500 pieces of live ammunition is hereby seized, alongside the other contents previously highlighted.The items would be handed over to the Coordinator of the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, under the office of the National Security Adviser for diligent investigation, and ultimately rigorous prosecution.

“The suspects arrested would be handed over to the Centre for further processing. We will work diligently with other Agencies of Government to apprehend all other cohorts and Death Merchants involved in this monkey business.

“The Eight Containers whose contents were wrongly declared to evade duty payment and Prohibition Order are hereby declared seized.

“The Licences and Permits issued for the operation of all the Warehouses and Terminals as well as those of their Customs Agents involved in these cases are hereby suspended pending the determination of their involvement.

“Customs Officers who are found complicit in the perpetration of these nefarious act would be heavily sanctioned in a manner that would be approved by the Board of the Nigeria Customs Service. Officers who kept faith with the Oath of allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and refused to be bribed into releasing these containers will be adequately rewarded in a manner provided by the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023”, he assured.

“As I conclude, let me warmly commend the professional commitment of the Customs Area Comptroller Onne Port, Mohammed Babandede and through him his Officers and Men, for the meticulous approach deployed to this operation. I also acknowledge our various partners, local and international who provided us the much needed information to successfully prosecute this operation.

“Finally, this seizure serves as a strong warning to others who may be contemplating similar misadventures, my message to them is simple; we will run you out of business. The Nigeria Customs Service, under my leadership, will not tolerate any action that compromises the economy and security of our beloved nation”, Adeniyi warned .

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