THE seeming ingenuity deployed by smugglers to beat eagle-eyed crack teams of the Oyo/Osun Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service failed on July 18, as a truckload of 1,600 cartons of frozen poultry products were intercepted at Agunrege/Saki axis of Oyo State.
The products were valued at N12.8 million, given the market value which is N8,000 per carton. Importation of poultry products is banned by the Federal Government.
The interception was disclosed by the Customs Area Controller, Mr Tolutope Ogunkua, on Thursday while briefing journalists on the efforts of his area command towards keeping to its promise to improve on its performance in the second half of 2016.
Speaking with Crime Reports at Arapaja dumpsite in the outskirts of Ibadan where the seized products were taken for destruction on Thursday, Mr Ogunkua said that the banned poultry products were loaded in a DAF 95 truck without registration number.
The Controller said that to keep the prying eyes of customs officials off, the smugglers partitioned the interior of truck into two with big iron pipes while a tarpaulin was used to cover the top and back side of the truck. Marble stones were then poured on the flat top and sprinkled at the back side, which would make anyone who saw the truck pass by to believe that it was conveying stones. “But we were able to beat them to their game,” he added.
During the destruction exercise which was witnessed by the Ministry of Environment officials, the police and journalists, the cartons of the poultry products were opened one after the other and the contents emptied into a deep hole, after which chemicals were poured on them to ensure that they would not be fit for consumption again. A caterpillar was used to heap sand on the products, digging and moving over the hole severally to make sure they were properly destroyed.
Also, the Controller disclosed that two fairly used trucks with registration number AGL 709 XR and LSD 774 XF as well as a fairly used red Ford bus with registration number AJW 144 XA were intercepted and seized at different border locations while trying to smuggle in imported bags of rice yet to be counted.
Reiterating that importation of rice through land borders remained banned, Mr Ogunkua expressed his area command’s resolve to re-engineer its operations towards the actualisation of the service’s core mandate of revenue generation and suppression of smuggling.