The Controller, Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Mr. Dan Ugo, has said the interception of a barge laden with 7,269 bags of rice some days ago was part of the renewed efforts of the Customs to fight against smuggling in the country.
Ugo said the smugglers of the consignment with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N51 million had done everything to evade arrest with series of cover-ups but for the eagle eye of a combined team of officers.
Ugo told THISDAY that his officers had always kept a close watch on the Badagry-Seme waterways in a bid to check the menace of smugglers. He disclosed that the seizure was made by a team of officers and men who, following a tip-off, kept vigil on the waters around Badagry-Seme areas in a bid to entrap the smugglers.
The controller said his command was ready for economic saboteurs, adding that this was also part of the mandate given the various Customs units by the Comptroller-General Inde Dikko Abdullahi, who according to him, insisted on zero tolerance for importation of rice through the land borders.
He said his command would collaborate with the rice importers association and other critical stakeholders to ensure that the activities of unscrupulous businessmen were nipped in the bud. He also disclosed that the barge was still on the high sea while the process of evacuation of the rice consignment from the barge to smaller vessels for onward transfer to the government warehouse had begun as at the time of filing this report.
He commended the Western Marine Command for providing complimentary security for the exhibits. The FOU had recently intercepted a truck along Shaki- Igbokwe Road of Oyo State with 155 bags of parboiled rice and 25 litres of vegetable oil.
Warning businessmen against engaging in illegal deals, Ugo disclosed that all the seizures had been a result of harmonisation of intelligence gathering involving three teams in the command.