The Nigeria Customs Service has uncovered new techniques employed by smugglers to smuggle arms and ammunition into the country.
Smugglers, it was gathered, now conceal ammunition inside food items to beat security agencies at various border points and checkpoints across the South-Western part of the country.
Confirming the development on Friday, the Customs Area Controller, Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Compt. Hussein Ejibunu said the 752 pieces of the AAA cartridges (70mm) of live ammunition were carefully concealed with Cassava flour in a vehicle at igbo-Ora, Oyo State.
Explaining to journalists how the ammunition was intercepted, the controller said officers of the unit were on at a pin-down point outside Iseyin when they sighted a vehicle carrying bags of smuggled rice convealed with cassava flour.
He, however, said on sighting his officers, the smugglers abandoned the vehicle and fled into the forest.
“When search was carried out on the vehicle, it was discovered that 752 pieces of AAA cartridges (70mm) of live ammunition were carefully concealed with cassava flour.’
According to the Customs boss, the unit also intercepted 621 cartons of expired drugs, 1,260 pieces of cutlass being smuggled into the country while 856 jerrycans of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) on the verge of being smuggled out of the country.
Speaking further, “Here is the list of 28 seizures made in the last three weeks which include 8,000 bags of smuggled rice of 50kg, 1,419 jerrycans of vegetable oil, 1,301 bales and 128 sacks of secondhand clothing, 233 bundles of wrapper, 621 cartons of expired medicaments, 635 cartons of wine, and 1,046 pieces of used tyres.”
“Others are 21 cartons of cutlasses at 60 pieces each, 531 pieces of used compressor, 986 cartons of chocolate biscuit , 229 wraps (114.5kg) of Cannabis sativa (indian hemp) 8561errycan of PMS at 25 litres each, 1,516 cartons of frozen poultry products, 751 pieces of AAA cartridges (70MM) of live ammunition 18 units of motorcycles and inclusive of 80 means of conveyance. All with a duty paid value (DPV) of N 723,288,244.75,” he added.
Ejibunu further revealed that the aforementioned seizures were intercepted at different flash points in the Zone prominent among them include Ado-Odo, ldogo, Sokoto-ljoun, Ohunbe, llaro, Atan, Abeokuta/Sagamu interchange, ijebu-Ode in Ogun State.
Others are lseyin, lgboora, lgbeti in Oyo while Gbaji, Agbara in Ogun State and the creeks.
His words, “There is a disturbing new trend of smuggling deployed by smugglers and that has to do with massive use of motorcycles to smuggle parboiled rice at 50kg each using bush paths not accessible to vehicles. Cumulative seizure of such means of conveyance is over 100 units in our custody.
“Another challenge that has remained unabated is the issue of ambush attacks of officers unprovoked. Just on Saturday October 16, 2021, my patrol team ran into a convoy of more than 24 vehicles laden with smuggled rice and they were able to intercept 12 along Abeokuta/Sagamu Interchange.
“As the officers made their way to Lagos, over 300 smugglers and hoodlums had mobilized and attacked the officers with pump-action rifles as well as cutlasses, pebbles and bottles, in the process, the patrol vehicle was riddled with bullets wounds while the windscreen was shattered.
“The aftermath of the attack was the forceful retrieval of 8 of the 12 intercepted vehicles and injuring of 2 officers. You can now see what we face every other day.
“One thing is very certain, we remain undaunted in the pursuit of our mandate no matter the level of attacks on my men on the field. Let me sound a note of warning to smugglers that no man has the monopoly of violence.
“We have the backing of the law to bear arms; and to that extent, we will not hesitate to deploy the rules of engagement in such dangerous circumstances, hence, parents should warn their wards on the dangers of smuggling,” he said.