In a startling revelation, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) at Muritala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) announced on Friday that it intercepted combat-ready Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, along with military hardware.
Discussing the command’s activities in 2023 with reporters, Customs Area Controller Compt. Charles Orbih unveiled the shocking discovery. Apart from the combat drone’s alarming specifications—featuring first aid box space, weapon storage, and an impressive 70-hour flight capability—the command disclosed that an additional 154 drones were either seized or detained.
The Customs Area Controller, Compt. Orbih, highlighted the multifaceted nature of their operations, emphasizing their commitment to security. The interception of combat-ready drones equipped with military capabilities raises concerns about illicit activities, prompting the NCS to take swift action.
In a broader context, Compt. Orbih shared that the command achieved significant financial milestones, generating a substantial N30.5 billion in revenue between January and December 2023. This financial success is a testament to the effectiveness of their operations in regulating imports and exports through MMIA.
He further stressed that these drones lacked the essential End User Certificate (EUC) from the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and exceeded the allowed specifications for entry into the country.
He said, “While the country allows drones of up to 250 grammes, this combat drone weighs about 5,000 grammes. With a flight capacity of over 70 hours and space for weapon handling, it can be utilized as a weapon of war and it lacks the essential EUC from the National Security Adviser (NSA).”
The Customs CAC also revealed that the revenue generated in 2023 exceeded its yearly target by 5 per cent, reaching N30.5 billion from imports.
He said, “The Muritala Mohammed International Airport Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has collected the sum of N30.5 billion as revenue from 1st January to 31st December 2023. The revenue collected exceeded the revenue target given to the Command by the NCS Headquarters of N29.14 billion with a total sum of N1.35 billion which implies that the Command surpassed its revenue target by 5% for the year under review.
“A comparative analysis of the revenue collected for the corresponding year 2022 of N20.89 billion which revealed a 46% increase in total revenue collection with a difference of N9.6 billion. Since my assumption of office in the Command, it is worthy to note that the Command has consecutively surpassed its monthly target from September to December 2023 as represented in the total revenue collected within the period under review.”
The CAC also detailed the seizure of 330 military and other security wares, 126 walkie-talkies, and their accessories.
He said, “According to Section 245 of the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023 which empowers a Customs Officer to seize and detain prohibited goods, the Command also made 125 seizures with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N801.56 million for the year 2023.
“The items intercepted include 89 Seized Drones; 66 Drones Detained; 330 Military and other Security Wares; 700 rolls of Cigarettes each containing 10 packs;126 Walkie Talkies and their Accessories; 87 pieces of Artifacts and Antiquities; 22 pieces of Elephant Tusks; $10,000 counterfeit notes handed over to Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and $8,800 concealed in an album.
“Other seizures include 300 pieces of lady’s footwear, 2 bags of Precious stones and other numerous items; three suspects were arrested in connection with the seizures. While investigation is ongoing, they will be charged to court as soon as it is completed.”
“The commitment and diligence of the officers and men of the Command and other Units including the Valuation Unit, Customs Intelligence Unit (CIU) and the Customs Police enabled seamless operation of carrying out these enormous tasks.”