BY OSOLOKA NNAMDI in Awka•
The Nigerian Customs Service Enugu Command on has disclosed the seizures of no fewer than 10,000 bags of 50kg smuggled rice, hundreds of second-hand tyres, eight sacks of substance suspected to be Indian-hemp, cartons of tramadol with some quantities of rahyphnol among other items.
The Comptroller, Federal Operations Unit of the Nigerian Customs in charge of the 11 states of South-East and South-South Zone, Bukar Alhaji Amajam, who made the disclosure when he visited the Enugu Command during which he inspected the vehicles and warehouse in the premises of the command where the contraband are kept said the service would not relent in seizing such goods.
Some of the bags of rice were first according to him were covered with several layers of bags of sawdust to give the impression that the trucks were conveying bags of sawdust and fish feeds.
He said seven trucks, four trailers, two luxurious buses and one J-5 Boxer bus were used by the smugglers to convey the goods when they were intercepted.
He further disclosed that 6 persons were arrested alongside some of the goods and have been handed over to the legal department of the customs in Owerri, Imo State for possible prosecution.
He noted that the warehouse alone has about 5,522 bags of 50kg-imported rice while about 4,686 were contained in the various trucks now under the custody of the command.
He explained that by the arrest and seizure of the imported rice, the Nigerian customs have contributed in encouraging the local rice farmers in Anambra and Ebonyi states to benefit from their labour.
He said the vehicles conveying the contraband products were arrested around Obollor-Affor and 9th Mile Corner in Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State as they were travelling to the northern parts of the country.
Other vehicles were intercepted between “Calabar and Abakaliki, Mfum; then Ogoja to Abakaliki. And even the Savon bar soap is a Cameroon product. Also, there are some that are coming from Akwa-Ibom creek and waterside.
“All these things go to show that we are up to the task to support Ebonyi and Anambra states local rice farmers because these are all imported rice; if we can reduce the rate of import, then the local farmers around this side will be able to reap from the sweat of their labour,” he said.
He said that the cannabis would be handed over to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) while the Rahyphnol and Tramadol would be submitted to the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for proper analyses.
Amaja, however, explained that there was no basis for comparing the rate of seizure in Benin and what the Enugu command intercepted.
“You cannot compare what we arrested in Benin with what we have here in Enugu. Within a week, in Benin, we had eleven trucks of rice; two trucks of tramadol, and in fact, many, many other things. In the same Benin, we have more than 17 exotic cars smuggled in within one week. So there is no basis for comparing the number of seizures in Benin and here in Enugu.”