The Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, of the Nigeria Customs Service said that suspected smugglers shot severally at officers of the service in an attempt to smuggle 81,425 liters of Petroleum Motor Spirit at Badagry area of Lagos State in the early hours of Thursday.
A statement by the unit quoted the acting Customs Area Controller in charge of the unit, Deputy Comptroller Hussein Ejibunu, to have said that despite the shooting, the officers were able to seize the products. Ejibunnu said that the PMS was parked in jerrycans and sacks, adding that the officers were attacked by the smugglers using Dane guns.
He said the seizures were results of painstaking intelligence and perseverance on the part of officers of the unit who are committed to protecting the national economy.
“When my men got there at exactly 1:30 pm, we were shot at with Dane guns. And you know that there is a difference between Dane guns, pump action guns and assault rifles like AK-47.
“They fired their Dane guns a few times and ran away, and since it was their terrain, they knew all the nooks and crannies to use for escape.
“We took possession. I moved in with 18 Hilux vehicles loaded with officers who were armed to the teeth because I was ready and knew what could come up.”
Ejibunu described perpetrators of trans border fuel smuggling as saboteurs that must be stopped as they don’t mean well for the country.
He decried a situation where the Federal Government spends huge amount of money to subsidize fuel for the benefit of Nigerians only for a few persons to be smuggling the subsidized fuel out of Nigeria for selfish gains.
“The seizure is a result of serious intelligence. We have been monitoring them since last week, and the information came to me that some people are using sacks to smuggle petroleum products out of Nigeria. “We put a close tab on them and their cup became full. What baffled me is the manner of loading, which I consider highly ingenious.
“For someone to think that instead of carrying drums like the ones we intercepted a few days ago from Ayegun border where they brought in about 60 drums containing PMS about to be moved from Nigeria and hid them in a bush, it was where they went to secure trucks that we swooped on them. “The only difference in this new one is that they used sacks to conceal the product and put them close to a creek, from where they will be ferried out.
According to him, “The implications to the economy are multifaceted. Firstly, our country subsidized petroleum products for us for our own use, yet some recalcitrant people who believe that that is the way they can always survive still believe it is to shortchange the nation as well. And it is criminal, because it is our collective patrimony, yet some people now believe that they can smuggle it to make gains.” (Saturday PUNCH)