On Tuesday, the Nigerian Customs Service and Murtala Mohammed Area Command (MMAC) disclosed the seizure of N68.9 million worth of frozen meat and poultry at The Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA). These products were said to have been smuggled through the airport in otder to bypass the border closure by the Federal Govrernment.
Upon interception of a South African Airways flight, 40 cartons of frozen poulty were retrieved while 104 cartons appear to have been abandoned at on the terminal tarmac.
According to Adewale Adeniyi, the Controller of MMIA: “On the night of 10th November, 2019, following the discharge of cargo from a South African Airways flight 5A060 from Johannesburg, our Tarmac operatives intercepted a consignment which were indicated as perishables, and are therefore qualified for pre-release at the cargo wing."
“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 00:05 hrs, the following morning another consignment of 104 cartons comprising pork meat, beef and turkey was seen abandoned inside 4 Dollies close to Gate 13. The Total Duty paid value of the two seizures is N68.9million."
“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. With the border drill making it a nightmare for smuggling operation at the borders. Intelligence has suggested that our airports are now being considered as options.”
Adeniyi further added that “Though, the commands are distinct administratively, we are still connected in our operations, since the tarmac in the International wing Services the cargo operation in the other command. 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 today,” Comptroller Adeniyi explained.
Comptroller Oyama of the Cargo section also said her command had intercepted 23 bags of stun guns, military uniforms and 25 packages of drones.
Is the Nigerian border closure yielding sufficient results?