The Sokoto Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has seized contraband goods worth N30 million in the last six months.
The Comptroller, Federal Operation Unit Zone B, Kaduna, Mr. Usman Dakingari, made the disclosure to THISDAY, shortly after inspecting the seized items at the command headquarters Sokoto yesterday.
He said the seized items which include rice, vehicles, vegetable oil as well as second hand clothes and shoes, were seized at the borders in Sokoto and Kebbi States.
According to him, the zone had recorded modest achievement since his assumption of office on April this year.
“The zone was somehow dormant before we came in April this year. Through the efforts our headquarters and men, we have been able to make progress in our anti- smuggling operation on rice, vehicles , vegetable oil and other prohibited items.
“Within the period, we have made seizures with a duty paid value of N30 million in Sokoto and Kebbi. The borders are very vast starting from Illela to Tangaza. You cannot cover all the places and all the areas are prone and porous,” he said.
Dakingari lamented that the smugglers had devised means of smuggling contraband goods by using small vehicles in order to evade customs officers.
He however, emphasised that the officers had been provided with more operational vehicles and adequately motivated to tackle the menace.
“The smugglers have stopped using trucks as means of conveying these contraband goods. They use small vehicles such as Toyota Carina as the means of carrying this rice. So, we have made efforts in this regard.
“Government is serious about rice. Government wants us to cultivate our rice to be self-sufficient so that we will not be a source of capital to some foreign countries. Some of these rice are contaminated and constitute health hazard.
“We have seen videos of plastic rice. That is why government banned this rice and we are in the forefront of enforcing this ban by going after these smugglers,” Dakingari added.
He appealed to residents of border towns and villages in the zone to continue to provide officers with useful information on the movement of smugglers.