How Smugglers Met Their Waterloo In 2022 – DC Ejibunu
Acting Comptroller Federal Operations Unit, Zone “A”, DC Hussein Ejibunu has revealed that 2022 was a time of sustained anti-smuggling attacks, zero compromise on tariff evasion and careful trade facilitation.
Ejibunu made the announcement Thursday while briefing journalists on the unit’s activities for 2022.
He said the unit is pursuing its core mandates without fear or favor while preventing the loss of government revenue by uncovering attempts to evade tariffs.
In his words: “We have pursued our core mandates without fear or favor in the six states of the Southwest, namely: Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo, even in the face of resistance, attacks and tricks of the kind of obfuscation we were obliged to fulfill our responsibility. I am happy to report that we have shaken up the smuggling world in our area of responsibility.”
“This unit also prevented the loss of government revenue, as our assigned position as controller uncovered attempts to evade tariffs. We have addressed the identified deficiencies by issuing Needs Notifications (DNs).” He stressed.
“We have done all of this at the cost of our lives, placing national interests above any narrow or personal gain. It is sad to note that some of our officers paid the ultimate price last year when they were killed by smugglers. For us, they are the heroes in the fight against smuggling and they will never be forgotten.” He remarked.
To combat smuggling, the Acting Comptroller said, from January 1 to December 31, 2022, the unit seized a total of thirteen billion nine hundred eight million five hundred and seventy-five thousand worth of contraband items declared. Four hundred and thirty-six naira, five kobo (N13,908,575,435.5).
He said some of the confiscations not only protected the national economy, but also protected citizens’ health by preventing dangerous, expired and harmful products from being smuggled into the country.
The items seized were foreign parboiled rice, vehicles, drugs, textiles, petroleum products and other items listed on the import and export ban lists.
Ejibunu said that rice topped the list of seizures in terms of volume. The unit seized 93,102 x 50 kg, equivalent to about 156 trailer loads of rice. He revealed that the newly constructed warehouse had an overflow of confiscated rice.
“A total of 108 automobiles, including trucks, tankers, cars and motorcycles, also participated
objects confiscated as smuggled goods and means of transport of smuggled goods.
Illegal drugs seized during the year were; 2,354 kg and 4,976 tablets of Cannabis sativa, 233 boxes x 225 milligrams and 82 packs x 225 milligrams of tramadol.
“For petroleum products, the unit seized 656,414 liters of premium motor gasoline (PMS); that is, about 20 truckloads of fuel from economic saboteurs,” he explained.
“We arrested 176 smuggling suspects last year, secured 7 convictions, 14 were brought to trial and are at various stages of investigation and prosecution, 7 suspects are in custody; 2 suspects have been handed over to the NDLEA and 1 suspect to the Nigerian Police while 151 have been released on bail,” he said.
“Sadly four (4) of our officers namely; The late Customs Inspectors TP Astor and A. Onwueguzie and Deputy Customs Inspectors Musa, R. and Bristol, E. lost their lives on active duty while confronting smugglers last year. While we frowned at such murderous acts; We have also arranged for those behind some of the killings to be arrested to face justice,” he noted.
“As authorized by our Enabling Acts, the unit patrolled their area of responsibility, ensuring smuggled items were detected and seized wherever hidden. Our 24/7 patrol is constantly being charged as we don’t believe in holidays, even during the Christmas period. Those who doubted it and tried to smuggle during the Christmas period were shocked by our Christmas and New Year promotions,” he stressed.
In terms of revenue, he said the unit has offset deductions in tariff payments and reached a total revenue of eight hundred and seventy-eight million, three hundred and forty-four thousand, four hundred and eighty-six naira, ninety-six kobo. (N878,344,486.96) as revenue for the government in 2022.
“This accumulated revenue would have been lost had not FOU ‘A’ intervened to ensure that the correct duties were paid into the treasury.” He showed off.
On trade facilitation, Ejibunu said the entity provided support to facilitate legitimate trades during the period by ensuring a single pass for compliant traders and double-checking suspected non-compliant traders.
“We have also provided escort services for bonded cargo to their respective destinations across the country,” he pointed out.
Ejibunu thanked the Comptroller General of Customs and his management team
for their unflinching support, while appealing to smugglers and their collaborators to seek legitimate livelihoods.
“We would like to thank the CGC and its management team for their unwavering support over the past year and years ahead,” he said.
“For 2023, we will maintain and increase the pace of our anti-smuggling operations, ensuring as usual no compromises, arrests of perpetrators and confiscation of their goods,” he said.
“We would like to advise smugglers and their collaborators to seek legitimate livelihoods this year as this unity will make their lives unbearable through bans, arrests, seizures and diligent prosecution,” he concluded.