‘Porous borders, ECOWAS protocol hindering fight against smuggling’
…Customs to distribute seized items to orphanages
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has identified porous borders and improper implementation of the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) protocol on transit by neighbouring countries as major hindrances to fight against smuggling.
Public Relations Officer of Customs, Joseph Attah who disclosed this during a media chat in Lagos, also bemoaned other challenges such as; non-cooperative attitude of some border dwellers; willingness of some Nigerians to help the smugglers mob Customs operative; and use of motorcycles and animals to smuggle through difficult terrains, among others.
He noted that suppression of smuggling remains the most challenging aspect of Customs functions as different people see anti-smuggling operations differently, he said the Customs has device more technical means of tackling the menace.
“Regrettably, many people still see smuggling as business not crime. In fact, smuggling is not just a crime, but the mother of many crimes and criminalities. Violent crimes are perpetrated with dangerous items such as arms and drugs smuggled into the country”, he said.
Attah noted that apart from its negative impacts on national economy, smuggling has devastating effects on security and well being of any nation.
Despite the challenges, he said the NCS has recorded 4,010 seizures with duty paid value of over N40 billion, among which are; arms, ammunitions, dangerous drugs, vehicles and rice.He said the Customs has also generated record revenue of N1.1 trillion to the coffers of the Federal Government between January and November this year.
Describing the revenue of N1.1 trillion as unprecedented, Attah said it showed that it has already surpassed N1.03 trillion incomes earned in 2017.
Besides, he said the Service has commenced plans to extend the distribution of seized items such as the imported parboiled rice and other perishable items to other Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps and orphanage homes across the six geo-political regions of the country.
Attah said during the year, rice and other perishable items were given to the victims of the unfortunate insurgency in the North-East.“So far a total of 424,391 (50kg) bags of rice worth N4.047billion and other seized perishables have been distributed to IDPs in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Edo States.
“With relative peace in the North-East, many IDPs are now returning to their ancestral homes and engaging in farming. The need for these items will continue to reduce while continuous seizures by anti-smuggling operatives demand the imperative of extended distribution. The Comptroller General of Customs has therefore sought and obtained presidential nod to extend distribution of these relief items to other IDP Camps and registered Orphanages across the country.
“Already, list of lDPs and orphanages across the country are being compiled with a view to kick-starting the nation-wide distribution as soon as possible. Hopefully, this will provide relief to fellow Nigerians who are going through tough times in the IDP camps and orphanages”, he said.