Story by Dili Utomi.
The Western Marine Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has in its continued quest to stem the tide of smuggling through the Western waterways of the country seized a large number of parceled weed which were tested and found to be Cannabis Sativa otherwise known as Marijuana.
In a press briefing today at the Command premises, the Customs Area Comptroller of the Command, A. A. Umar disclosed that the Command through credible intelligence and sagacious application of knowledge intercepted boats carrying 29,660 parcels of Cannabis Sativa with a combined weight of 16,663 kilogrammes and worth about Two Billion, Sixty One Million Naira (#2,061,000,000.00) only. The CAC also noted that 1,575 bags of foreign parboiled rice worth Thirty Nine Million, Three Hundred and Seventy Five Thousand (#39,375,000.00) naira only was seized as well as other items which include, 1,077×25 litres of premium motor spirit worth Four Million, Nine Hundred and Twenty One Thousand, Seven Hundred (#4,921,700.00) Naira only, seven wooden boats with four outboard engines worth Thirteen Million, Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand (#13,750,000.00) naira only being the means of conveyance and also two sacks of gun powder which value had not been determined as at press time.
The duty paid value of all the seized items is put at Two Billion, Two Hundred and Thirty Three Million, Eight Hundred and Eight Thousand, Nine Hundred and Fifty (#2,233,808,950.00) naira only. The total number of seizures made over the period is 16.
Comptroller Umar noted that the Customs and Excise Act Cap C45 of the Laws of Nigeria 2004 of HS code 1006.30.1000 as amended and PMS code 2710.12.4000 restrict the importation of rice into the country and the improper importation and exportation of PMS.
During the questions and answers session the CAC said that “They were unable to apprehend the culprits because in most cases, they try to minimize or avoid casualties as the smugglers usually dive into the waters to avoid arrest and they cannot fire indescriminately into the water because there are usually other law abiding people (fishermen) using the water and most of the arrests happen at night. He said that about nine patrol boats are being rehabilitated by the naval engineers to be put in use in addition to newly constructed seven boats about to be commissioned into the Command to add to the nine boats, five of which are gun boats and four logistics boats in use. CAC Umar said that there are two hundred and sixteen able officers in the Command and about fifty more are expected into the Command after their training in Kano”.
The NDLEA Officials testing the weeds to confirm that they are Marijuana.
The pressmen were taken round to see the various seized items and patrol boats as well as the seized boats and outdoors engines taken from the smugglers.
There was a hand over of the seized Cannabis Sativa to the officers of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency led by the Apapa Special Area Commander, Mr. Isaac Uzah. The seized items were tested with different reagents to ascertain that they are Marijuana and while receiving the seized Cannabis Sativa, the NDLEA Commander said that “He is assuring that everything humanly possible will be done to make sure that all perpetrators of drug crimes in Nigeria are stopped and brought to book whenever they are apprehended”. He thanked the officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service for their dogged efforts towards the eradication of the importation of illegal substances into the country.
On the whole, CAC Umar said that such things as information and cooperation from the public, commitment, bravery and dedication of officers and motivation from the management of the NCS are great factors that aid their performance.
He aslo said that they have been engaging in corporate social responsibility as they organise medical outreach in several places and have also on nine different occasions rescued stranded passengers at sea, a typical example being one where a pregnant woman with some members of her family were stranded when their boat developed engine problems and the woman gave birth to a set of twins thirty minutes after the family had been rescued and taken to a hospital.
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