…As JTF destroys 436 illegal refineries, nabs 266 criminals in Niger-Delta***
The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) indicated on Thursday that it generated, between January and November 2018, a whooping N1.1 trillion revenue, in addition to impounding contraband goods worth more than N40 billion, in the same period.
The Service image maker and national Public Relations Officer, Deputy Comptroller, Joseph Attah who disclosed this in Abuja, noting that the amount realised actually surpassed the N1.03 trillion generated in 2017.
Attah was particularly happy that the 59 containers of tramadol and other controlled drugs did not escape the eagle eyes of Customs operatives, but got confiscated, across the commands within the period.
“We are aware that our insistence on compliance, arrest and prosecution of smugglers and increasing disposition of custom officers to place national interest above self, is against the interest of some people”, Attah said, adding that 40 containers were seized in Apapa Port, 10 in Tincan Port and nine in Onne Port in Port Harcourt, Rivers.
He was also joyful that the automation of the Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS) had been upgraded.
According to him, the strategic deployment of officers and men of the service and establishment of strike force as the third layers of security, have impacted positively on customs operations.
“With these achievements, we must have stepped on toes, and that is why some enemies go to town with misleading information by accusing the service of nepotism, non-facilitation of trade and corruption.
“It is curious that such people will choose the time when officers are turning down bribes like the case in Apapa.
“Our officers rejected N150 million bribe offered by arrested suspect, to save the nation from consuming 40 containers of dangerous drugs.
“Customs, under the current Comptroller General, Col Hameed Ali (rtd), cannot be cowed into relaxing its hard stands on enemies of the state.
“We will insist that all international trade actors comply with the fiscal policy of government” he said.
The spokesperson said that the service, charged with the responsibilities of implementing fiscal policy of the government, would not allow blackmail to deter it.
Meanwhile, the Joint Military Taskforce (JTF) code-named “Operation Delta Safe” said on Thursday that it had destroyed no fewer than 436 illegal refineries in the Niger-Delta region.
Brig-Gen. John Agim, Acting Director of Defence Information, disclosed this while briefing journalists in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa capital.
Agim said that the illegal refineries were destroyed in the operations carried out from October to-date which was named ”Operation 777.”
He said the taskforce also arrested 266 persons for alleged various offences and handed them over to the appropriate government agencies for prosecution.
”The force has nabbed a suspected notorious militant kingpin, Gift Apollo aka ‘Thousand’ whose gang is responsible for the attack and death of soldiers deployed to Abua/Oduma Creeks between Rivers and Bayelsa State.
”The operation has helped in destroying about 436 illegal refineries, 609 boats, 1,507 surface tanks and 1,538 drums used for illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta region.
”The operation has also recorded several significant achievements by men and officers of the JTF.
“Anti-illegal bunkering and illegal refining operation was carried out in Okaka community in Bayelsa State which has become notorious for crude oil theft and illegal refining,” he said.
Agim said the taskforce identified active militant camps at Okparakiri, Sanikiri and Okporama communities, and on a tip-off, arrested suspected sea robbers and cultists terrorising Abonnema-Buguma in Rivers waterways.
”Seven Nigerian Agip Oil Company maintenance workers kidnapped while carrying out an assessment of a blasted wellhead in Azuama in Southern Ijaw Local Government of Bayelsa were rescued and released un-armed.
”We have also recovered several dangerous items such as 230 different types of arms, 240 assorted ammunition, 11 barges, 101 outboard engines, 135 pumping machines from the criminals,” he added.
Rear Admiral Suleiman Apochi, the Commander, “Operation Delta Safe,” said with the operation of the JTF in the region, the level of vandalism in oil infrastructures had drastically dropped.