By Tunde OLowu.
The Federal Operations Unit Zone C of the Nigeria Customs Service in Owerri impounded and seized contraband goods valued at about N675 million between January and June this year.
Making this disclosure while conducting newsmen round the Customs Government Warehouse in Benin, Edo State, the Customs Area Controller in charge of the unit, Victor David Dimka said the seized goods comprise of 86 vehicles, made up of 25 SUV Jeeps, 51 cars,and 10 trucks.
Mr Dimka added that 19 suspected smugglers were arrested in connection with some of the seized goods with another 24 cases of such arrests already in court.
He listed the places where the goods were impounded to include Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Enugu, Owerri, Port Harcourt and Calabar.
He pointed out that his men on patrol impounded a truck which was conveying 600 bags of 50kg wheat flour and 150 empty jerry cans and drums only to discover when intercepted to contain used car tyres numbering about 492 pieces.
According to him within the same period, another truck loaded with 1,200 cartons of imported prohibited soaps ,while yet another one was caught with bags of imported rice.
Pointing out that some of the pilots of the contraband goods on citing his men on patrol abandoned their contrabands and ran away, Dimka assured that the FOU Zone C was leaving no stone unturned to ensure that they are fished out with a view to stopping them from continuing their illicit business at the detriment of the nation.
According to him, “we as a zone are determined to fish out those who specialize in vehicle smuggling and especially those whose vehicles were either seized or abandoned and ensure their prosecution in line with our mandate concerning those economic saboteurs in the land.”
Stressing that the Nigeria Customs Service was better equipped for the challenges in the performance of their jobs to tackle smugglers along the Zone C routes, he expressed the units appreciation to sister security agencies for their espirit de corps.
He appealed to well meaning members of the public with information about these smugglers to feel free to approach the unit with such information, assuring that their helpful information will always be treated in confidentiality.