Despite closing borders, criminals still smuggle rice into Nigeria–Customs

NEWS DIGEST–The Nigeria Customs Service says ingenuity deployed by criminals or smugglers has made it possible for contraband items to come into the country.

The Customs’ Public Relations Officer, Mr Joseph Attah, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday.

Attah explained that there were so many factors responsible for the entrance of smuggled items into the country in spite of efforts to stop them by the service.

He said most smugglers use unapproved routes to bring in their contraband goods into the country while some conceal the items in a manner that they might be lucky to escape arrest by the customs operatives.

“People often ask where were customs operatives when contraband goods entered the country without being stopped.

“We have seen a situation where rice is smuggled using gas cylinders or a situation where a spare tyre is used. The tyre is perforated and rice is loaded inside and when you open the booth you see what is supposed to be a tyre.

“If you do not have a tip-off, you are not likely to know that inside that spare tyre are 10 or 15 mudus (measures) of foreign rice.

“Another circumstance, smugglers use casket that is used to carry a corpse to either smuggle rice or petrol. They sometimes load petro in jerry cans and put it inside a casket, wrapped in such a way that you think is carrying a dead body.

“A situation like this, if you don’t have intelligence, you wouldn’t know. For instance, without a tip-off, it is unlikely as a human being to accost a vehicle carrying the casket with a supposed dead body and request for such to be opened.

“If people with all these tricks succeed and escape, their smuggled items are what you find in shops, markets, and houses,’’ he explained.

He added that smugglers’ actions were meant to sabotage the economy and the security of the country and assured Nigerians that the service was determined and committed to checking that.

Attah disclosed that customs had fortified its strategies and intelligence to check the activities of smugglers in the country.

(NAN)