The Federal Operations Unit Zone C of the Nigeria Customs Service in Owerri said it had confiscated 5,085 bags of rice and other goods worth N140 million.
The Area Controller of the Zone, Mr Victor Dimka, made this known on Thursday while displaying the seized goods to newsmen at its Abia/Imo command premises, Owerri.
He said eight trucks conveying the smuggled items were similarly confiscated.
The controller said the contraband items were intercepted by his officers at different locations within the zone.
He said the five suspects, arrested in connection with the smuggled items, were being investigated.
Dimka warned transporters not to employ drivers of questionable character as employers would answer questions on vehicles used for smuggling.
He said that under the Customs Act, means of conveyance of illegal goods were liable to confiscation.
Dimka advised Nigerians to desist from smuggling as custom officers were now better equipped, trained and empowered to tackle smugglers in whatever form.
He said that the smugglers were buying empty bags of approved rice to conceal the smuggled ones.
“It is becoming increasingly difficult for rice smugglers.
“They buy empty approved rice bags to conceal their act. But customs have been trained and have intelligence unit and is working with members of the public.
“Customs will continue to do what they are known for.
“The controller-general of customs has empowered and re-enforced the unit with patrol vehicles to deal with smugglers.
“There is therefore no place for anyone or persons that will continue in this illegal business called smuggling,” he said.
Dimka called on the general public to continue to assist the officers of the zone by providing useful information that would help track down the smugglers.
“Customs cannot do it alone. Smugglers have worst cartels than kidnapping. If you want smuggling to stop all hands must be on deck,” he said.
The controller described smuggling as illegal business that not only wreaked havoc on the nation’s economy, but constituted waste of money that should have been used for better and legal business.