By Bassey Anthony, Uyo
The Joint Military Task Force under the auspices of the Border Drill Operations, at the weekend, raided for the first time the ‘deadliest’ smugglers’ den in Unyenghe, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom.
The raid was carried out by over 70 security operatives drawn from the Army, Customs, Air force, Navy, Immigration and Police.
The team was led by Comptroller of Customs and Sector Coordinator for South South and South East Zone, Shehu Abubakar.
Eight hundred bags of smuggled rice discovered from a warehouse in Unyenghe community were impounded.
Comptroller Abubakar described the area as smugglers haven for contraband rice, which was discovered through intelligence information.
His said: ‘They threatened security operatives that if they come and make seizure here, they will not go alive.
“But thank God, we were here day before yesterday, we were here yesterday and we are here today.
”Truck drivers refused to come to this area to convey the smuggled items back to Customs office because of fear of attack. So we have to use our Hilux vehicles for the transportation. We have broken the jinx.
”This is the first time security operatives have come here to make seizure. I thank Component Commanders of Border Drill Operations for their synergies to make this possible.”
He said the law empowers the Customs to search premises and patrol freely, stressing that being in possession of smuggled items was an offence punishable under Customs and Excise Act.
Abubakar added that the Service has stepped up its implementation of the Federal Government’s ban on importation of rice and other items through the land borders.
He warned smugglers to desist from economic activities that sabotage the government policies of making Nigeria self-sufficient in food production.
According to him, recalcitrant economic saboteurs will continue to count their losses, as the Nigeria Customs Service is better mobilised, organised and backed by the extant laws to be always ahead of them.
The Customs chief vowed the Service would continue to make life difficult for smugglers, as his officers and men will deal decisively with smugglers and smoke them out of their illicit business.