By Sakin Babalola, Ibadan
The Oyo/Osun Command of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has uncovered a new method by which smugglers want to be sabotaging the country’s economy.
According to the Osun/Oyo Area Comptroller, Mr Tolutope Ogunkua, smugglers are now using bullion vans to smuggle banned goods into the country.
Ogunkua stated that two suspects that were allegedly using the method have been arrested by the command at Saki border.
Speaking with newsmen in Ibadan on Wednesday, Ogunkua, disclosed that the NCS has impounded a bullion van and 10 fairly used vehicles loaded with smuggled rice which have been prohibited from coming through land.
Sixteen fairly used exotic cars, two brand new Land Rover Discovery, one fairly used Man Diesel Truck and a truck carrying a smuggled brand new Honda Accord car were also impounded, according to Ogunkua.
The NCS boss said officers under his command stopped the bullion van and insisted on checking it to know the contents inside it. Bags of rice were loaded inside the vehicle when checked.
He disclosed that his officers acted on a tipoff and initially retreated when attacked but reinforced and succeeded later. Two suspects were apprehended in the van.
Ogunkua said: “The arrest of this bullion van meant for conveying cash now used in concealing smuggled imported bags of rice should send a serious signal to recalcitrant saboteurs of the Nigerian economy that there is no hiding place for them.
“It is worrisome to note that some Nigerians remain unrepentant even as they continue to lose. The Federal Government’s visible efforts in transforming the agricultural sector, especially in the area of rice production as well as the increase prevalence of expired imported rice with its hazardous health implications have touched their conscience to avoid rice smuggling.
“However, our resolve to deal with them remains unshaken, more so now that the present management has directed thorough investigation with the view to prosecuting all those that will be found connected with this illegal act.
“We have told people to pay duty; I cannot imagine somebody buying these kinds of exotic vehicles and packed them in the bush. We will continue to arrest them; if possible we will prosecute them. If you are arrested with fake documents, we will prosecute you and the agent.
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