By Sandra Chukwunyere
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Western Marine Command (WMC) has intercepted Cannabis Sativa with a Duty Paid Value(DPV) of N694, 575, 000 and handed same over to the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency(NDLEA).
This was disclosed in a Press conference on Friday by the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Comptroller Olugboyega Peters at Western Marine Command Ibafon, Apapa Lagos. Comptroller Peters said that in the first quarter of the year,other items such as rice, bale of clothes with a DPV of N687, 446 000 was also intercepted.
According to Peters, in the Year 2020; the operatives of the 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 of marijuana by officers and men of the Command.
“On March 27, 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 HS Code 0602.90 of Common External Tariff (CET).
“This is 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 and Section 169 – Powers of forfeiture.
“The goods together with the suspect were brought to WMC; 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 with a DPV of N694, 575, 000.
“Similarly, the Command has in the 1st quarter of 2021 made a total of 12 seizures ranging from Rice, marijuana, Second hand clothing and PMS with a total DPV of ₦687, 466,000.00 only,” he said.
He noted that the Western Marine Command has had several collaborations with the NDLEA Director Seaport Operations and it was in view of continuous synergy and its statutory responsibility that NCS was handing over the marijuana together with the Six suspects to the representative of NDLEA in the interest of national security.
He said that the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) headed by Miss Siji Song had on March 16 in fulfillment of its promise of installing Teleconferencing CISCO WEBEX equipment, handed over the equipment to the command.
Peters pointed out that the equipment would aid the operational activities of the Command and 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,” he said.
CAC said that the task of making the society free from drugs abuse and drugs related substances was a collective one, adding that 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.
“Let me warn the unscrupulous element to desist from smuggling and look for a legitimate means of livelihood. 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.
“I urge the NDLEA to invite us during the destruction of this marijuana and a copy of certificate of destruction issued to the NCS for statistical and record keeping,” he said.Mr Samuel Gazama, Commander NDLEA, Apapa Special Command, Lagos, pointed out that the type of cannabis intercepted was being cultivated in Ghana and was more potent than what was cultivate in Nigeria.
He said that this cannabis does not end here in Nigeria, it was still in transit, noting that for NCS to have intercepted the cannabis, they had saved our country and our image.
“We want the media to help sensitive the public on the dangers of what we are trying to stop in our society. “On behalf of the chairman of the NDLEA, Brig. Gen Buba Marwa(Rtd), we thank the WMC and the Controller General of Customs for the new leaf of synergy and cooperation that is really coming up between customs and NDLEA.
“Even if we do not have suspect, the fact that they were able to stop this from going into the society, it’s a big achievement and I say thumbs up to you and your men and we say a big thank you for your effort,” he added.