The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Ogun State Area 1 Command, has seized 710 parcels of Indian hemp illegally smuggled into the country from Ghana.
The service said apart from the hemp, packaged in coconut size and wrapped with a street value of N25 million, it also seized 2,251 bags of 50kg rice, 36 vehicles and 1.4 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), among others.
The Command said the value of the total seizure was put at N667.8 million.
The Customs, in a statement made available to The Tide yesterday by the Controller of the Command, Comptroller Michael Agbara, said the Indian hemp concealed in a built-in- compartment of a truck was intercepted along Ihunbo axis of Ogun State following a tip-off.
According to him, no arrest was made in connection with the seizure as the driver of the truck fled and abandoned the vehicle on sighting the customs officers.
“We have 710 parcels of Indian hemp concealed in the vehicle. The smugglers reconstructed the vehicle in such a way that if you see it, you will think it is empty but on a closer look, you will know that there are two compartments and inside the compartment, we have the Indian hemp.
“The street value of each is N30,000 and based on that value, the total street value is over N25 million.
“The vehicle was arrested through intelligence and immediately the driver sighted our officers, he jumped out of the vehicle,” he said.
Agbara, who frowned at the high rate at which youths take Indian hemp, said the use of such substances was responsible for the high rate of crime in the country.
“We see the implication of this drug on Nigerians with a lot of of youth restiveness, banditry in the country. The youths cannot commit this kind of crime without taking something. So, if we are depriving them of these hard drugs, we are helping the country. It is part of our duty of protecting the country. We are after a saner Nigeria, not just generating revenue,” he said.
The customs boss said the command was collaborating with the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to ensure that those behind the importation of the smuggled hard drugs are prosecuted.
Navy Nabs Six Rice Smugglers In A’Ibom
The Nigerian Navy Command has arrested six suspected rice smugglers in Akwa Ibom State.
The Navy Forward Operating Base (FOB) also impounded 1,439 bags of smuggled rice between December 2019 and January 2020.
This was made known by the Commanding Officer, Forward Operating Base, in Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Peter Yilme, in a statement last Wednesday.
Yilme said the suspects and the items impounded had been handed over to the Nigeria Customs Service in Mbo Local Government Area of the State.
The commanding officer, however, said some of the suspects escaped on sighting the Navy gunboats.
He said the command would remain steadfast in fighting illegalities on the waterways in line with the directives of the Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok Ibas.
Yilme said the arrests were made along the Unyenge, Effiat, and Mendoro creeks between December 2019 and January by Navy officers and men on routine patrol in their gunboats.
“I handed over 1,439 bags of rice and six suspects to the Superintendent of Customs, Garuba Hassan, in line with the directives of the Chief of Naval Staff.
“We are committed to rid the waterways of all forms of illegalities.
“I commend the untiring efforts of the officers and ratings in ensuring the mandate and tasks of the Base are achieved.
“I also appreciate the immense efforts of the Chief of Naval Staff, for providing the necessary platform and logistics support for the Base to carry out its operations,” Yilme said.
Confessing to the crime, a suspect from Bayelsa, Wede John, said that he usually transported fish and was carrying rice for the first time when he was arrested.
“I don’t know the owner of the rice and didn’t know that rice was loaded into the boat. This is my first time of carrying rice.
“I usually transport crayfish and dry fish to Oron Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom. I was carrying rice from Bakassi to Unyenge when I was arrested,” he said.
Also speaking, a suspect and boat driver, Awagoyi Philip, said the owner of the rice promised to pay him N20,000 for carrying the rice but that he was yet to collect the money.
“I drive boats and I was paid to drive the boat that carried the rice. This is my first time. The owner of the rice promised to pay me N 20,000 and is aware that I have been arrested”, he said.
Reps Plan Security Summits On Ports
The House of Representatives Committee on Ports and Harbours says it will soon organise a nationwide security summit to tackle acts of insecurity in the nation’s ports.
The committee also decried the spate of piracy in the nation’s waterways and abduction of crew members of vessels coming to Eastern ports.
Chairman, House of Reps Committee on Ports and Harbours, Hon Datti Garba Muhammad, disclosed this to The Tide during an interview in Port Harcourt shortly after a visit to the Rivers Port Complex.
Muhammad said the summit would focus on the best possible ways to tackle insecurity in the nation’s waterways and reduce abduction of crew members in the ports.
Although the chairman did not say when the summit would take place, he condemned the act of piracy in the industry, saying the act had scared away some foreign investors, vessel owners and lowered the revenue accrued to the Federal Government.
He insisted that the committee wanted the Rivers Port Complex to revamp for more maritime activities and attract investors to the sector.
The chairman commended the management of the port, saying the port is now safer to do business as the issue of pirate attacks on vessels is now a thing of the past in the complex.
According to him, the safety and the working environment in the port complex will generate more revenue to the government.
“Rivers Port is safer for investors to patronise; no reports of attacks on sea vessels going to the complex for over six months now”, he said.
Describing Rivers Port Complex as à colonial port, Muhammad said the committee would want the complex to be competitive, attract investors and yield more revenue to the government.
Stories by Chinedu Wosu
Piracy: Seafarer Wants FG To Equip Navy, Marine Police
A Port Harcourt based seafarer, Onmonya Udeh, has appealed to the Federal Government to equip the Nigerian Navy and the Marine Police to tackle piracy in the nation’s waterways.
Udeh lamented that pirates were armed with more sophisticated weapons than the Navy and the Marine police, thereby posing serious threats to the lives of mariners and passengers.
Udeh spoke to The Tide yesterday in Port Harcourt during a telephone interview on issues bothering maritime industry.
The mariner said over 121 crew members were kidnapped in 2019 across the Gulf of Guinea by suspected sea pirates.
He called on the Navy and Marine Police to ensure regular patrol of the creeks, channels and all the waterways in the region to protect lives and property.
The seafarer appealed to the government to equip Navy with adequate gunpower to confront the sea robbers that are posing threats to the creeks and waterways in the region.
He said marine companies were scared to operate in the region due to the negative attitude of the criminals who terrorized the waterways.
Udeh said the attack and abduction of vessel owners and marine companies had created unemployment and even forced companies to relocate to a safer environments such as Lagos and neighbouring countries.
The mariner admonished the youth to shun acts inimical to the socio-economic growth of the region, but embrace positive life style that would encourage industrialization.
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