The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Friday paraded six suspects who smuggled 45,000 litres of adulterated diesel contained in 750 giant polythene bags, which were carefully concealed among sacks of sawdust to deceive security operatives. The seized product has an estimated value of N21,920 million.
Also seized were 237 bags of 50kg foreign rice hidden in a petrol tanker.
The Controller Enforcement at the Customs headquarters, Kayode Olusemire while parading the smugglers said that the Customs officers on patrol intercepted the smugglers in Suleja, who immediately declared that they were conveying sacks of sawdust from Port Harcourt to Kaduna State.
“But the officers perceived unusual odour despite concealing it in sawdust, prompting them to dig further.
“That was when they discovered diesel concealed in nylons. Each nylon contains 30 litres of diesel and there are two nylons in a sack. This means that each sack contains 60 litres of diesel. They have 750 of those sacks. Aside from that, their vehicle has inbuilt tanks that can store up to 30,000 litres of smuggled product.
“Altogether, they smuggled 45,000 litres of diesel. How will an officer know if not to be smart? This is inimical to society. We are talking about pipeline vandalism, illegal refineries and all that. These are the people that encourage these sabotages.
“We have the issue of petrol, diesel and other products’ adulteration. They destroy engines, cause explosions and destroy the economy. These are economic saboteurs. Regardless of your trick, officers are there to catch you. We have intelligence.
“We are appealing to Nigerians to support us by exposing these criminals to us and other security agencies”, he explained.
Olusemire added that the arrested suspects will be handed over to the Nigerian Security Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for further investigation and prosecution.
In a related development, Customs also seized 237 bags of 50kg foreign rice tucked away in a petrol tanker that was driving towards the Mararaba axis of Abuja.
Olusemire described the rice-tanker smugglers as bold saboteurs ready to hurt the citizens in their quest to make money.
“They removed the registration number of the tanker. Likewise the truck used to smuggle adulterated diesel. It has no number but we shall investigate deeply to know the owners. This shows their determination to sabotage the nation. Tankers are built to convey crude oil and products but here we have tankers used for smuggling rice that can be grown in Nigeria in dry and wet season. Let’s eat what we produce”, he added.
When interrogated by the media, one of the suspects, Abdullahi Idris, 25, who drove the diesel-laden truck claimed he was not aware of the item he was asked to take to Suleja.
“I don’t know the owner of the diesel but I was given the commodity in PHC to Transport to Kaduna.
“I don’t know how much was paid to the owner of the vehicle.
“I’m sad. I don’t know what was in the vehicle. They did not tell us”, he said.