By Martins Nwanne
The Western Marine Command of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Thursday, intercepted 26 sacks of Indian hemp weighing 3750 kilogrammes and valued at N100 million.
The command also said it seized more than 200,000 bags of rice from smugglers in the last three weeks.
Addressing journalists at the Ibafon, Apapa, Lagos, office of Western Marine Command, the Comptroller, Mr. Umar Yusuf, in company of other senior Naval officers said the seizure took place at 2.00am on Thursday night at Iworo harbour, Tanfi Island, off Badagry-Benin Republic axis after a tip-off.
“After waiting for hours at ambush without the owners showing up, the team sought re-enforcement from Nigerian Navy who responded immediately and assisted in conveying the bags of cannabis to our base at Ibafon-Apapa, Lagos, on Friday morning. No suspect was arrested.
“A while ago, we seized more than 4,000 kilogrammes of cannabis valued N150 million. The drug was headed from Ghana and that is why we suspect that this one is also coming from Ghana. We handed them over to NAFDAC, just as we would do with this current seizure and they gave us a commendation letter.
“The parcels are called ‘Love’ just as the parcels in the former seizures were called ‘BIBLE’ and ‘GOD IS GOOD’.”
He said Customs management at Abuja has been very supportive of Western Marine Command and this support has been the motivating force for officers and men of the command.
He commended the leadership of Nigerian Navy for its continuous collaboration with the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) which, he said has yielded tremendous results.
“In another two weeks, our vessels would be commissioned and it would be total war against smugglers. So far, we have made seizures worth more than N250 million in a matter of weeks.’’
Speaking at the event, the Naval Commandant, Captain Simon Dogo, said the seizure, which took place at Iworo was as a result of collaboration between government agencies.
He explained that the Armed Forces Act mandates the Nigerian Navy to co-ordinate the enforcement of Customs laws, even though each agency has its constitutional mandate.
The Comptroller informed journalists that trailers of seized rice had been sent to thousands of internally displayed persons in Maiduguri, Yola and Benin, as well as seized vegetable oil.
He could neither tell the number of bags nor the value but that it was in hundreds of thousands, even as more than 100,000 bags of rice is stashed in heaps at the government warehouse of the Command.
“The naval people have really assisted us. The same Captain Dogo, a few weeks ago, handed to us 350 bags of seized rice from smugglers with six suspects. They have been arraigned in court and have been remanded at Kirikiri Prison. Their case comes up on May 12, 2016.
“This time around, the President and Commander-in-Chief has directed that these seized food items should be made available to internally displaced persons in the country. Yola, Maiduguri and Benin have benefitted from the gesture.”