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Customs Border Patrol team reads riot act to smugglers

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– seizes N92m contrabands

Oluseyi Dasilva, Ilorin

The Joint Border Patrol Team (JBPT), Sector 3, North Central zone of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has again read the riot act to smugglers, saying that, as long as the smugglers remained adamant in violating the constitution of Nigeria, the service would stop at nothing in intercepting and seizing the contrabands found in their possession, not minding the economic loss this causes for them.

Making good this threat, the team said it intercepted and seized 82 different items with a duty paid value of N92,547,752 Million naira between April 2021 till date.

At a press briefing with journalists in Ilorin on Wednesday, the team coordinator, Comptroller Olugboyega Peters, displayed a number of seizures made by his team despite the advanced smuggling techniques used by the smugglers.

He gave a breakdown of seizures made to include: 154, 404 litres of petroleum product with a duty paid value of N91, 236,450.

Also, he gave out a list of 650 sacks of 60 litres each of diesel (39,000 litres), 1,735 bags of foreign parboiled rice of 50Kg each, 1,415 jerrycans of 25 litres of petroleum products each (36,525 litres), 33 used vehicles, 12 bales of worn clothing and 10 motorcycles used in the smuggling of per boiled rice.

The coordinator reiterated that extant regulations were still in force and warned smugglers that petroleum product smuggling had a long history and had been significantly reduced in this sector, despite its economic sabotage effect on the economy.

“The policy of 20-kilometre radius by the federal government is still in force. Any petrol station that falls within the 20 kilometres radius and has the approval to lift petrol from NNPC/DPR are policed which make it difficult to be diverted or smuggled out.

He warned criminal elements operating in the sector to shun the act and look for better means of livelihood.

The coordinator explained that any method, scheme or tactics adopted by the smugglers will be uncovered.

“Security has been tightened; smuggling has become harder which hurts the smuggling networks. It might interest you to know that, from the record made available by NNPC/DPR only 13 petrol tankers were granted approval to load petroleum product every week to border communities, to prevent excess product being smuggled out.

“Such actions put in place include but not limited to–: No petrol station is allowed to operate in the night.

“Any major supply through approved routes is monitored through strengthening of check points manned by our officers

Enforcement is mapped out and thoroughly monitored by team of officers comprising of Customs, ONSA, NIA, Police, DSS, Immigration and other sister agencies involved in this assignment.

“All petrol stations are on roster to lift fuel accordingly which makes it absolutely difficult to smuggle out. Approved tankers laden with petroleum product must be escorted by a team of officers (only on roster) to the point of discharge. For example, any tanker, either from Ilorin or Oyo, en route to border station or area of our responsibility (AoR) will be monitored by a team of officers positioned at Okuta and hand it over to officers at Ilesha Baruba, while officers at Ilesha Baruba will guard it to Chikada or any approved point of discharge.”

The coordinator further stated that no petrol tanker is allowed into the commands area of responsibility (AoR) after 1600hrs to avoid late discharge and unwarranted suspicion adding that  no officer on roster/escort of a petroleum tanker must leave the discharging point until after the last drop is discharged into the underground tank.

 “Any tanker that cannot get to the point of discharge before 1600hrs must sleep over at the nearest check point and proceed to its destination the next day. A detailed inventory of each petroleum product is always taken. e.g. Number plate, Driver’s Name, point of destination and couple with other relevant documents.”

He warned that there would always be a crackdown on illegal petroleum outlet i.e. fuel station found guilty of violating the above rules of engagement (RoE) and will be sanctioned accordingly adding that security has been tightened; smuggling has become harder not minding whether it hurts the smuggling networks or not.

Olugboyega Peters assured the public that the eagle eyes of the well-trained men and officers of the Customs service would leave no stone unturned using its robust intelligence network to discover all trick and pranks of smugglers, wherever they may be.

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