The Controller, Federal Operations Unit Zone “A” of the Nigeria Customs Service, Mohammed Garba has disclosed that various contrabands with Duty Paid Value (DPV) worth ₦1 billion were seized by the unit in February 2018.
Garba, who spoke while parading the seized items before journalists in Lagos, said that his unit also recovered some ₦67.9 million from demand notices that were illegally raised in an attempt to defraud the system through value transfer and under declaration.
A breakdown of the seized contraband items include: some 4,201 bags of foreign parboiled rice, 2619 cartons of frozen poultry products, 18 different vehicles and some 1,105 cans of vegetable oil. Other items are 2,637 pieces of second-hand tyres, 2,001 kg of pangolin, 1,333 bales of used clothes etc.
Among the recovered vehicles are: one Rolls Royce, four Mercedes Benz, three Kia Rio, an Audi Q7, one Land Rover HSE, a Toyota Venza, a Ford Taurus, a Honda Cross Tour, an Escalade, among others. All the vehicles’ models range from 2008 to 2015.
They gave details of how the contrabands were recovered, noting that some of the vehicles were intercepted along the Ijebu Ode expressway, while most of the other items were discovered at car marts in Lekki, Lagos.
The pangolin shells which weighed about 2001kg and valued at ₦408.3 million were recovered from an apartment at Allen Avenue in Ikeja, Lagos following a top-off, Garba said. Also recovered from the Allen apartment are 218 pieces of elephant tusks which weighed 343kg and is valued at ₦85.1 million.
Garba explained the reason for intercepting and recovering the contraband, saying that it is the responsibility of the Nigeria Customs Service to do so.
The Convention of International Trade in Endangered species (CITES 1973) entails that Customs Administration globally protects wild life by intercepting illegal trade on such animals . It further prevents killing of endangered species since the tusks are only available after the killing of the Elephant and Pangolin.
In the spirit of the inter-agency collaboration, the seized Pangolin and tusks have been handed over to Nigeria Environment Standards and Regulatory Enforcement ( NESREA ) for further investigation.
For avoidance of doubt, our action is in line with the provisions of Sections 147 of Customs and Excise Management ( CEMA ) Cap 45 , laws of the Federation of Nigeria ( power to search premises, and Section 158 of CEMA, Cap 45 ( power to patrol freely). -Mohammed Garba
About seventeen suspects, including a Chinese national, have since been arrested in connection with the seized contraband.