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Customs Intercept Containers Carrying Ammunition Worth N13.9bn At Onne Port

02 July

Reported by Ayooluwa Afolabi

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), yesterday, announced that its operatives intercepted nine containers carrying offensive items including arms, ammunition, Illicit drugs, and second-hand clothes worth N13.9 billion.

The Comptroller-General of NCS, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, who disclosed this at a press briefing in Onne, River State, said one of the containers, a 40-footer with numbers: MAEU165396 originated from Turkey.

Adeniyi said the container became a subject of interest for the Nigeria Customs Service based on the number of risk factors associated with its importation.

According to Adeniyi, a thorough examination of the container revealed the following alarming contents: Eight Hundred and Forty-Four (844) units of rifles and One Hundred and Twelve Thousand, Five Hundred (112,500) pieces of live ammunition.

Giving details of the container, the CG said, “We have followed its sail across continents and we’ve benefitted immensely from credible information through our collaboration with intelligence communities both at local, national, and international levels,”

According to him, the importer tried to circumvent the procedure through the outlet of a private-bonded terminal.

“The breakdown is as follows: 764 units of Tomahawk Jojef Magnum Black Pump Action Rifles, 10 units of VC Verney Caron Gunmakers Jojef Magnum Silver Pump Action Rifles,50 units of VC Verney Caron Gunmaker Double Barrel Rifles, 20 units of VC Verney Caron Gunmaker Single Barrel Rifles Exclusive Series, Sterling High-Quality Live Ammunition 34g – 25 Plastic Shotgun Shells (70MM).”

The rifles and ammunition, he said, were concealed using various items such as doors, furniture, plumbing fittings, and leather bags. The duty-paid value of the single container was N4.171 billion.

He added that three suspects were arrested in connection with the seizures after securing a detention warrant from a competent court of justice.

In a related development, the Customs CG said officers, through synergy, collaboration, and intelligence sharing, on Saturday, 29 June 2024, intercepted yet another eight pieces of 40-foot containers in transit to a bonded warehouse from Onne Port.

“The container numbers are TCKU6879285, CMAU5985012, CMAU7515384, CMAU4297020, SEKU5488437, BMOU4363156, MRKU4616024, and MRSU3068928.

“On examination, six containers were laden with 1.5 million bottles of cough syrup of codeine in 100ml sizes, 3.5m tablets of tramadol(5mg). 

The duty-paid value of the containers is N9.6bn. Two containers laden with 720 bales of used clothes with a duty-paid value of N144 million. The total duty paid value of the nine containers is N13.9bn,” the customs boss concluded.

Adeniyi said the Licences and Permit issued for the operation of all the Warehouses and Terminals as well as those of their Customs Agents involved in these cases have been suspended pending the determination of their involvement.

He also said Customs Officers, who were found complicit in the perpetration of the nefarious act would be heavily sanctioned in a manner that would be approved by the Board of the Nigeria Customs Service.

According to him, officers who kept faith with the Oath of allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and refused to be bribed into releasing these containers would be adequately rewarded in a manner provided by the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023.

“Let me warmly commend the professional commitment of the Customs Area Comptroller Onne Port, Mohammed Babandede, and through him his Officers and Men, for the meticulous approach deployed to this operation. 

I also acknowledge our various partners, local and international who provided us the much-needed information to successfully prosecute this operation.

“Finally, this seizure serves as a strong warning to others who may be contemplating similar misadventures. My message to them is simple: we will run you out of business.

“The Nigeria Customs Service, under my leadership, will not tolerate any action that compromises the economy and security of our beloved nation,” Adeniyi concluded.

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