By Salawudeen Olawale
The Oyo/Osun Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service disclosed that its officers stormed a warehouse in Ibadan and made a seizure of 9000 bags of rice, valued at around N88.7m.
The Controller of the command, Tope Ogunkua, told journalists on Monday that the operation, which he said was recently concluded, was jointly carried out by the anti-smuggling team of the command and Federal Operations Unit in Zone A.
Ogunkua disclosed that one person was arrested during the operation.
He said, “A total of 9000 bags of smuggled imported rice with duty paid value of N88, 776,000 were impounded and evacuated from a warehouse by the command anti-smuggling team in conjunction with the Federal Operations Unit of Zone A.”
Asked if the command as the right to raid a warehouse and seized items found inside, Ogunkua said what the command did was backed by the law and that the option was sometimes avoided in order to minimize casualty in case of resistance by owners of the goods.
He disclosed, “We are bound by the law to carry out our anti-smuggling duty anytime of the day and anywhere within our jurisdiction. Section 147 of the Customs and Excise Management Act of 1990 as reviewed said without prejudice to any other powers conferred by the act, where there is reasonable doubt to suspect that anything liable to forfeiture under the excise laws concealed in any building or place, any officer may without a warrant enter that building or place at any time whether by day or night, and search for, seize, detain or remove such thing.
“Sometimes when we do these things, people naturally resist and there could be shooting leading to the death of innocent people. When we, however, feel it is safe to do so, we use the option. We went to the warehouse in the evening and we were there throughout the night. One person was arrested and now on administrative bail.”
Ogunkua said last year, the command made more than N14.8bn, which represented 76 percent of its target, adding in 2017, the command was expected to make N20.6bn, out of which N1.5bn was realized in January.