By Steve Agbota
The Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) yesterday said it recovered one unit of pump action rifle, two units of locally made guns and 35 live cartridges from smugglers along Idiroko, Ogun State.
The acting Comptroller, FOU, Zone A, Hussein Ejibunu, who made the disclosure at a media briefing on the Unit’s activities for the month of September, said the smugglers surrendered the weapons and ran into the bush when the officers of the unit engaged them in a battlefield. He assured that the suspected smugglers would be apprehended very soon.
He said other contrabands seized in the month of September include, 7,328 x 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice, 121,550 litres of premium motor spirit (PMS), 68 cartons of frozen poultry, 37 crates of eggs used to conceal rice, 150kg parcels of Indian hemp and 10 pieces of military camouflage bags.
He revealed that chief among the September seizures was a massive discovery of 1,955 bales of used clothing in an abandoned building around the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex.
Also, within the same period, he said a large cache of PMS ingeniously concealed inside sacks was intercepted at the Badagry axis of Lagos State. He added that five suspects were arrested in connection with some of the seizures mentioned above.
He said the unit made a series of seizures with a total duty paid value of 622.407 million, adding that in the unit’s efforts to prevent losses to the government, it also recovered the sum of N107.816 million during the period under review.
Interestingly, he said the Federal High Court passed three judgements in favour of this unit on three criminal cases; securing the conviction of six people for being in possession of smuggled goods, while six civil suits against the unit were dismissed for lack of merit.
“The 1,955 bales of used clothing is the highest single seizure of used clothing made by the service this year, and we have commenced investigation to know those behind this massive importation, and at what entry point these clothes came into the country.
“Used clothing in commercial quantities falls under absolute prohibition. They have been seized and we are on the trail of the smugglers to get them arrested. The smuggling of used clothes has economic and health implications on our people. The government, in its wisdom, wants the local textile industry to enjoy the protection and create more jobs for Nigerians from the cotton farms through the textile and garment factories to our markets,” he said.
He pointed out that the very serious health implication of this act of textile smuggling is the exposure of users to skin diseases like scabies and fungal diseases, which can be transmitted by wearing unwashed second-hand clothes.
“This is coming when the world is wary of monkeypox whose mode of transmission includes clothing. A World Health Organisation fact sheet revealed that “Monkeypox” is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus,” he explained.