Home » Major Security Alert: Customs Seize Combat Drones, Counterfeit Currency at Lagos Airport

Major Security Alert: Customs Seize Combat Drones, Counterfeit Currency at Lagos Airport

Customs Clampdown: High-Tech Drones, Counterfeit Dollars Seized in Lagos

by Oluwatosin Racheal Alabi

In a significant security development, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) at Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, has intercepted a range of prohibited items including combat drones, military hardware, and counterfeit currency. This major operation highlights the vigilance and efficiency of the NCS in safeguarding national security and economic interests.

During a press briefing at the MMIA office, the Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Charles Orbih, revealed that the command had seized combat-ready drones equipped with first aid box space and weapon handling capabilities. These advanced drones, significantly heavier than the legal limit of 250 grams for drones in Nigeria, are capable of flying for over 70 hours. The absence of an End User Certificate (EUC) from the National Security Adviser’s office made these drones unauthorized for import.

Comptroller Orbih also announced the impressive revenue generation of the command. In 2023, the MMIA Command generated N30.5 billion from January to December, surpassing its target by five percent and marking a 46% increase from the N20.89 billion collected in 2022. This success is attributed to the command’s consistent performance, particularly from September to December 2023.

The list of seizures is extensive and varied, indicating the diverse nature of contraband flowing through the airport. The customs made 125 seizures with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N801.56 million in 2023 alone. This includes 89 seized and 66 detained drones, 330 pieces of military and security apparel, 700 rolls of cigarettes, 126 walkie-talkies and accessories, 87 pieces of artifacts and antiquities, and 22 pieces of elephant tusks. In addition to these items, the command also seized counterfeit notes totaling $18,800, which have since been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) for further investigations.

The interception of such high-value and potentially dangerous items at the airport is a clear indication of the challenges faced by customs officials in maintaining security and order at national entry points. The seizure of combat drones, in particular, points to possible security threats that could have far-reaching implications if not detected and intercepted.

The NCS’s action underscores the importance of stringent surveillance and enforcement at Nigeria’s borders and entry points. The prevention of illegal importation of military-grade equipment and counterfeit currency is crucial for national security and economic stability. The interception of artifacts and elephant tusks also highlights the ongoing battle against illegal wildlife trade, a serious conservation and environmental issue.

The year 2023 has been marked by heightened vigilance and proactive measures by the NCS. The achievements of the MMIA Command, in terms of revenue generation and the interception of illegal goods, set a precedent for other customs commands across the country. The commitment of the NCS to safeguarding Nigeria’s borders and economic interests is evident in these successful operations.

As the NCS continues its efforts to combat smuggling and illegal trade, the support and cooperation of the public, as well as other government agencies, remain crucial. The interceptions at Lagos International Airport serve as a reminder of the ongoing challenges in managing Nigeria’s vast and complex entry points. With continued vigilance and strategic operations, the NCS aims to further strengthen its role in protecting the nation’s security and economic interests.

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