Controller, Ogun area command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Michael Agbara, has disclosed that there are over 100 illegal routes at Idiroko, the border between Nigeria and Benin Republic.
Comptroller Agbara made the disclosure on Tuesday at Idiroko while addressing journalists on some seizures of contraband recorded by the command in the month of November.
He said the many unapproved routes at Idiroko have remained the bane of smuggling activities in the State.
He said, “Ogun State is a porous State. I pray there will be a day I will take some of you to the creeks. A lot of unapproved routes abound, over 100 in the State down from Ado-Odo where they use water to Ipokia down to Ago, Ijofin up to Imeko among others. We have a lot of unapproved routes that can be plied with cars and motorcycles.
“So I am not surprised that you see smuggled rice at Sango markets. Sango is at the centre, it does not mean that all the rice is from Ogun State, they can be from other States but as you know, nobody has ever stopped smuggling, we only suppress it to the barest minimum and I think we are doing just that.”
He said despite resistance and attacks on officers by smugglers, the command will not be deterred in carrying out its statutory responsibilities and implementation of the Federal Government policy on importation of rice and vehicle through the land borders.
According to him, “Just five days ago, some officers were knocked down at Oke Odan. They are still in hospital and that is what we see every day. It is a risky job. The officers came from headquarters on patrol to complement our effort but they were hit by a hit and run vehicle. So it is a daily occurrence here but officers are motivated to do their job and they are not abandoned by their plight when such incident occurs. So we will continue to do our job.”
He said the command recently got approval of four new patrol vehicles from the Customs management to complement existing ones for effective manning of the borders against economic saboteurs.
In the area of revenue generation, Agbara said the command in the month of November recorded its highest revenue with a collection of N1.1 billion.
This, he said is against the monthly revenue target of N727.7 billion and representing an increase of N401 billion.
He added, “In the area of anti-smuggling within the period under review, the command made seizures of 6, 015 bags of foreign rice, 67 units of vehicles, 119 kegs of vegetable oil , 171 pairs of used foot wears, 22 bales of second hand clothing, 30 cartons of frozen poultry products with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N395 million.
He said the success recorded by the command in its anti-smuggling operation is a blow to smugglers, warning those who still have the intention to exploit the avenue of the yuletide period to smuggle to desist as the command is well positioned to truncate such intentions.
He said five suspects have so far been arrested in connection with the seizures.
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