About N143million worth of garments in 143 bales and 30,240 bottles of foreign non-alcoholic wine have been seized by men of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit, Zone C, Owerri, Imo State.
The impounded textiles were packed into 143 jumbo bales and falsely declared as agricultural pressure sprayer.
Controller, NCS Zone C, Kayode Olusemire, who took newsmen round some of the latest seizures, said the wines were in three containers, but falsely declared as salt.
The controller, who disclosed the Customs has won the battle against foreign rice smuggling, disclosed that smugglers have now resorted to the use of Nigerian ports by falsely declaring their goods. He added that the practice is prohibited under Section 46 of Customs Act.
He said: “These acts of smuggling stifle local initiative, but whatever they do, we know. We are keeping tab on them.”
Okusemire also disclosed that hoodlums suspected to be smugglers attacked the customs officers who were escorting some of the seized containers of smuggled wine from Port Harcourt to Owerri Warehouse.
According to him, the attackers invaded the Owerri Industrial Layout around 2 am with various dangerous weapons and pelted the customs personnel with stones, bottles, cutlasses, sticks and other dangerous items.
Olusemire said the attackers almost overpowered their personnel but for the timely intervention of other customs officials.
The attackers, he said, were working for those he termed economic saboteurs still involved in smuggling banned products officers, adding that the officers ‘restrained’ themselves during the attack and did not use force.
Olusemire said: “On the arrival of reinforcement from our command teams, the hoodlums were overpowered and they fled. In the face of the provocative hostility, officers tactically succeeded in securing the seizures out of the scene in a professional manner thereby avoiding any loss of life.”
The raid, according to him, showed how desperate smugglers have become since the unit’s intensified efforts to close in on them.
He said: “This will not deter us, but what they should know is that a section of the Customs and Extant Management Act empowered us to defend ourselves against aggression and we will not fail to do so if we come under threat like this one.”