A driver with a logistics company who was arrested for allegedly smuggling 280 units of 50 kilogramme bags of foreign parboiled rice last week along the Agbara-Atan road in Ogun State has been granted administrative bail by the Nigerian Customs.
Adam Ogheneghare was arrested after operatives of the Customs Federal Operations Unit discovered the concealed rice in cartons of Maggi seasoning.
Jeremiah Attah, the Public Relations Officer of the FOU, said the Controller used his discretion to grant bail to the suspect based on the available evidence.
“He (suspect) even reported to the Legal Unit today and he will still report on 20th of December based on his bail conditions pending the conclusion of investigation,” said Mr. Attah.
“Since he claimed not knowing the rice was smuggled and those involved have run away, the controller decided to let him go.”
Mr. Ogheneghare, who works as a driver with GPS logistics, was paraded alongside other suspects caught in different acts of smuggling. He claimed ignorance of the gravity of the offence committed.
“While going on the way, some people stopped me to help them carry the rice to their warehouse and I agreed. I did not know it was smuggled rice.” he said.
The 280 bags of rice discovered inside Mr. Ogheneghare’s truck with registration number LSD 724 XC were part of the 13,333 bags of rice seized between November 1 and 30.
Asked about the involvement of his firm, GPS logistics, Mr. Ogheneghare said his company was not aware of the act.
“The people that I carried the rice for saw me along the road. We bargained and agreed to carry it for them. Since Customs arrested me, I have been calling them (owners of the rice) they are not picking my calls.
“Sometimes, their phone number will be off. That means they knew Customs has arrested me.”
Uba Mohammed, Controller, FOU, had said if their investigation shows that GPS Logistics had no hand in the smuggling, their vehicle will be released to them.
On Tuesday, Mr. Attah said the company was not part of the criminal act.
“We have seized the rice and given back the truck to the company,” he said.
“They did not have a hand in it. The company even told us they have sacked the driver. They showed us a copy of the sack letter.”
Attempts to reach GPS Logistics was unsuccessful as phone calls to their official lines did not go through.
Last week, the Customs Unit had announced seizures of 64 vehicles, out of which 59 were brand new, hidden in Omole Estate, Lekki Phase One, and Ojodu, all in Lagos.
Alongside the seized vehicles were alleged smuggled 13,333 bags of 50kg parboiled rice, 835 jerrycans of refined vegetable oil, used clothes and tyres.
According to the Customs, the duty paid value of the seized items within the month of November was N1.5 billion.