As the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) continued to observe the land border closure order of the federal government, the Muritala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) command of the service has intercepted N68.9 million frozen products smuggled through the airport.
This was disclosed at a joint press conference between the Customs Area Controllers of the MMIA Command and Muritala Muhammed Area Command (cargo section), headed by Comptroller Adewale Adeniyi and Comptroller Lena Oyama.
Speaking to journalists, Adeniyi said the seizure was as a result of the border closure because the seizure was first of in its kinds in the history of the airport commands.
“On the night of November 10, following the discharge of cargo from a South African Airways flight 5A060 from Johannesburg, our tarmac operatives intercepted a consignment with an indicator perishables, and are therefore qualified for pre-release at the cargo wing. Forty cartons were intercepted on the South African Airways flight and 104 cartons were abandoned on the tarmac of the terminal.
“The officers requested to sight the items before transferring them. Though the airway bill described the goods as fresh vegetables, the contents were later discovered to be assorted frozen products. In all, there were 40 cartons, including beef, pork and fish fillets. It became obvious that the importers through his agents have prepared a pre-release documentation purporting the imports to be fresh vegetables with the sole intention to evade the import prohibition order.
“At about 005 hours the following morning, another consignment of 104 cartons comprising pork meat, beef and turkey was seen abandoned inside four dollies close to Gate 13. The total duty paid for the two seizures was valued at N68.9 million,” he said.
He added: “The tarmac seizure is coming on the heel of other seizures recently made at the Cargo Wing. This clearly points to a possible shift of strategy by smugglers. Intelligence has suggested that our airports are now being considered as options.
“Though the commands are distinct administratively, we are still connected in our operations. The tarmac in the International Wing Services falls in our jurisdiction, while the other command is responsible for the cargo operation. It is therefore imperative for us to create a close working environment to ensure that criminals do not exploit divisions to perpetrate their business.
“I am glad to inform you that the close working relationship nurtured a smooth take off of the new Command. To ensure effective coverage of the tarmac, we conduct joint surveillance of the Tarmac Area, an action that resulted into the seizures for which we are briefing you.”
Also speaking, Oyama said her command had intercepted 23 bags of stun guns, military uniforms, and 25 packages of drones.
She also disclosed that the revenue of the command has increased by 100.6 per cent of the expected revenue target.
According to her, “For the month of August 2019, the MMIA Command generated a sum of N4.3 billion. This figure represents 100.6 per cent of the expected revenue target for the month of August 2019.
“For the month of September 2019, the MMIA Command generated a total sum of N4.9 billion. This figure represents 115.6 per cent of the expected revenue target for the month of September 2019, exceeding the monthly target by N674 million.”
On the seizures, she said “25 packaged of drones, 23 bags of stun guns, two packages of military uniform, walkie talkie, police jackets and mini cameras” have been intercepted.