*impounds 800 bags of contraband rice
By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Joint Military Task Force, under the auspices of the Border Drill Operations, at the weekend raided smugglers’ warehouse in Unyenghe, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
The raid was carried out by over 70 heavily armed security operatives drawn from the Army, Customs, Air force, Navy, Immigration and Police.
The team was led by Comptroller of Customs and Sector Coordinator for South South and South East Zone, Shehu Abubakar.
A total number of 800 bags of smuggled rice discovered from a warehouse in Unyenghe community and impounded.
Speaking with newsmen, Comptroller Abubakar described the area as smugglers haven for contraband rice which was discovered through intelligence information.
Abubakar said that hethe smugglers had threatened security operatives that if they come and make seizure there, they will not go alive but their threat holds no water as they overpowered by the superior power of Taskforce during the raid.
”Truck drivers refused to come to this area to convey the smuggled items back to Customs office, because of fear of attack. So we have to use our Hilux vehicles for the transportation. We have broken the jinx.
”This is the first time security operatives have come here to make seizure. I thank Component Commanders of Border Drill Operations for their synergies to make this possible,” Abubakar said.
According to him, the law empowers the Customs to search premises and to patrol freely, stressing that being in possession of smuggled items was an offence punishable under Customs and Excise Act.
Mr. Abubakar added that the Service has stepped up its implementation of the Federal Government’s ban on importation of rice and other items through the land borders.
He warned smugglers to desist from economic activities that sabotage the government policies of making Nigeria self-sufficient in food production.
According to him, recalcitrant economic saboteurs will continue to count their losses, as the Nigeria Customs Service is better mobilised, organised and backed by the extant laws to be always ahead of them.
He said it was unfortunate that unpatriotic Nigerians willingly comply with the law of other countries, but refuse to abide with their national guidelines on imports and exports.
The Customs chief vowed that the Service would continue to make life difficult for smugglers, as his officers and men will deal decisively with smugglers and smoke them out of their illicit business.
Comptroller Abubakar appealed to Nigerians to support the Border Drill Operation to win the war against smuggling through useful information that could lead to the raid of other smugglers’ hideouts.
“I warn them to desist from smuggling and look for legitimate trade. If we come back here and this business continues, we will destroy these shanties used in storing smuggled items.” The team leader said.