Customs Western Marine Command nab six Indian hemp smugglers, make seizures worth over N720m

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Not swayed or carried away by its 2020 record breaking feat , where Operatives of the command made the highest single seizure of 10 Tonnes of Indian hemp, valued at over One billion , first in the history of the Nigerian Customs service( NCS) ‘Cannabis sativa ‘ seizures , Customs Western Marine Command , Ibafon, Apapa, Lagos State, has once again confiscated prohibited goods worth N 720, 541,000,00 and apprehended six drug smugglers with over six tonnes of Marijuana. The large quantity of Marijuana which were carefully stocked in 147 big sacks, weighing 6,615 kg, were confiscated when some eagle eyed Customs officers on patrol along the coastal and harbour area of Ibeche beach ,on credible intelligence ,swooped on the merchant of the banned drug substances and arrested six agents of the barons. In a press statement despatched to our medium by the Commands Spokesman, Mr. Isah Sulaiman, the Indian hemp Intercepted were laddened in two wooden boats equivalent of two trailers load of marijuana.
While Showcasing the seizure and parade of arrested suspects at a Media Briefing on April 2nd, 2021, by the Customs Area Comptroller , NCS , Western Marine Command, WMC ,Ibafon, Apapa, Lagos State, Dr. Olugboyega Peters , in the presence of the Apapa Special Area Commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Mr. Samaila Bashiru Gadzama , he described his Operatives feat as ” our unprecedented feat in the fight against smuggling”.
Going down memory lane , Comptroller Peters, recalled that in the Year 2020; the operatives of his Command , made a massive seizure of over 10 tonnes of Cannabis Sativa (Marijuana) , valued at over a billion Naira. “Here we are today showcasing another feat of arrest and seizure of Marijuana by Officers and Men of the Command”.

Narrating the difficult process leading to the seizure , he stated that on “Saturday 27 March, 2021, our operatives of Coastal and Harbour Patrol (Bar-Beach), on credible intelligence, along Ibeche Beach on the high sea, accosted, intercepted and arrested Two wooden boats laddened with sacks suspected to contain Marijuana tagged as “HS Code 0602.90″ of Common External Tariff (CET) , together with Six suspects, as empowered by Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap. C45 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 2004, as amended ,which states as follows : Section 149 – Powers to search vehicles/ships,Section 150, Powers to search persons,Section 158 – Powers to patrol freely ,Section 167 – Powers to detain/seize,Section 169 – Powers of forfeiture”.

According to him, the goods together with the suspect were brought to WMC and upon physical counting, it was found to be 147 sacks of Marijuana with an average of 45Kg per sack, giving an estimated total of 6,615Kg.

The total Duty paid value of the Marijuana, he said, was ” Six Hundred and Ninety Four Million Five Hundred and Seventy Five Thousand Naira (₦694, 575,000.00) only”. At a brief handing over of suspects and the Indian hemp to the Drug Agency, Peters expressed his satisfaction with the existing cordial relationship between his Western Marine Command and the NDLEA. ” we have had several collaborations with the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Director Seaport Operations and it is in view of continuous synergy and its statutory responsibility that we are handing over the marijuana together with the Six (6) suspects to the representative of NDLEA in the interest of National Security”.

Reeling out his command’s other achievements in the 1st quarter of 2021, he said “we made a total of 12 Seizures ranging from Rice, marijuana, Second hand clothing and PMS with a total Duty Paid Value (DPV) of Seven Hundred and Twenty Million, Five Hundred and Forty One Thousand Naira (₦720, 541,000.00) only.”

Peters , who used the occasion to show members of the public , an equipment donated by the United Nations Office On Drugs And Crime , UNODC, promised to utilize it once necessary operational tools are put in place. “This is the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) fulfillment of its promise based on the outstanding anti – smuggling performance of WMC, of installing Video Teleconferencing CISCO WEBEX equipment, the delegate of the UNODC headed by Miss Siji Song, had on the 16 March 2021, visited the Command and handed over the VTC equipment , which will aid the operational activities of the Command and will also assist the security agencies in response to the fight against Piracy in the maritime industry. The equipment will be fully installed when all the enabling tools are put in place by the Service”.

Calling for Public assistance and partnership in the fight against drug smuggling , he reiterated that “It is pertinent to know that the task of making our society free from drugs abuse and drugs related substances is a collective one, all hands must be on deck to make our society free from such menace. ” You can imagine the havoc, like terrorism, banditry, rape and other crimes, the marijuana of this magnitude may cause in our society if this seizure has not been made by our operatives”, he said.

He therefore warned those he called unscrupulous element , to desist from smuggling and look for a legitimate means of livelihood, as the operatives of WMC are always ” combat-ready to bring smuggling to its barest minimal. No amount of distraction will deter us from enforcing the Federal Government Fiscal Policies; we will remain resolute and undaunted by failure no matter whose ox is gored”.

Requesting for a proof of the destruction of the confiscated drugs, he urged the NDLEA to invite his command during the destruction of the marijuana with a copy of certificate of destruction issued to the NCS for statistical and record keeping.

Responding, NDLEA Commander, Gadzama, who had earlier demonstrated a scientific test of the seized drugs, to ascertain its origin and type, expressed the appreciation of his Chairman , Brigadier – General Buba Marwa Marwa ( RTD), on the efforts of Nigerian Customs Service , to stamp out illicit drug trade and smuggling into the country. “We are encouraged by the assistance of sister Agencies like the Customs and the new dawn with General Marwa to stop illicit drugs, NDLEA is winning the drug war “, Gazama said. He therefore warned those into the illegal trade, to stop or get crushed . “NDLEA has been partnering community leaders, Religious leaders and sentisizing the youths on the dangers of illicit drug trade “, he stated. Gazama, who promised to dig further in their investigation, with a view to unraveling the network , indicated that his command would re – weigh the seized drugs, while announcing that the test results showed that the Indian hemp originated from Ghana . He enjoined Nigerians to show patriotism and maintain the integrity of the country, by joining forces with government to rid the Nation of drug smuggling. Wondering why such drugs are entering the country despite the fact that Nigeria is a major cultivator of cannabis sativa, Gazama noted that smugglers use the country as a transit point to other Nations.

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