CAC Umar A.A. addressing the press.
Story by Dili Utomi.
The Nigeria Customs Service and particularly the Western Marine Command of the Service have over the decades been waging such terrible wars on smuggling and smugglers, but despite these wars, the activities of smugglers have neither ceased not abated. A new Customs Area Controller was assigned the duty of battling the smuggling activities at the Western Marine Command in February in a bid to tighten the noose on these nefarious economic activities and he is Comptroller Umar A.A.
In his first press conference that took place this yesterday at the premises of the command, the new CAC took journalists round to see the various seized items shortly after the briefing. In his speech, the CAC indicated that on the 30th of March, just about a month after his resumption at the post, his officers based on reliable intelligence intercepted a wooden boat at Oko-Aja beach containing 32 sacks later found to contain a total of 2,520 large wraps of Cannabis Sativa weighing a total of 1,437 kilogrammes. The street value of the seized illicit substance is put at One Hundred and Sixty Eight Million Naira (#168,000,000,.00) only. The CAC indicated that the case is that of absolute prohibition as it contravenes Section 24(b) of the CEMA Cap C45 Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2094 as amended.
CAC Umar and Mr. Uzah signing the cannabis sativea hand over documents.
CAC Umar also added that on the 7th of April, a wooden boat conveying smuggled 503 bags of rice was intercepted, on the 25th day of May, two wooden boats carrying 136 bags of foreign parboiled rice were also intercepted and all taken to the Command centre. The duty paid value for all the bags of rice is put at Twenty Nine Million, Six Hundred and Eighty Four Thousand Naira (#29,684,000.00) only. Other seized items include 35 pieces of 25 litters jerry cans filled with foreign parboiled rice, 30 jerry cans of premium motor spirit, 8 jerry cans of smuggled vegetable oil, 8 cartons of spaghetti, 250 sachets of Pepper Onion Tomato, 71 Pairs of second hand shoes, 10 sacks of second hand clothing, 4 boats and 2 outboard engines which were means of conveyance of the smuggled items. The total duty paid value (DPV) for all these are put at One Hundred and Ninety Million, One Hundred and Forty Five Thousand, Five Hundred Naira (#190,145,500.00) only and the premium motor spirit of these components were auctioned with the proceeds remitted into the federation account as appropriate.
The two agency heads displaying the seized marijuana.
It is particularly worrisome that whenever the smugglers sight the Customs personnel on the waters, they usually abandon their boats as they dive into the sea leaving all their items in the boats and so no arrests have been made so far.
CAC Umar indicated that the committment on the part of officers, effective use of intelligence, proper information gathering, surveillance operations, inter-agency collaboration and intensive patrol of the creeks and waterways by operatives play important roles in aiding these seizures.
The seized cannabis sativa on display.
The Marine Commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Mr. Isaac Uzah was on hand to receive the seized marijuana in the handing over ceremony performed shortly after all the processes of briefing, taking journalists round the warehouses where some of the seized items were packed and the testing of the Cannabis Sativa by the NDLEA officials present as well as the CAC showing the boats used as means of conveyance to the pressmen have all been carried out.
CAC Umar fielding questions from the pressmen.
At the question and answer session, the NDLEA boss commended the men of the WMC for their ability to take this large amount of illegal and dangerous substances out of the reach of the populace and helping to make sure that the society is saved some amount of agony from the effect of substance abuse.
Also, CAC Umar indicated that he has been touring some of the coastal communities to meet with their Obas in order to bring the knowledge of the negatve effects of smuggling on the economy, public health and the image of the country known to them so that they can also in turn educate the people in their domain.
The two agency heads promised to continue the cordial and symbiotic relationship that they have been enjoying over time in order that they may continue to meet with the objectives for which their entities were set up.
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