Customs Take Anti-Smuggling Campaign to Border Communities
The Comptroller General, CG, of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Col. Ahmed Ali (rtd) has, as part of efforts to ensure better communal relations with host communities in border towns and villages begun a sensitization campaign aimed at enlightening citizens in such communities on the dangers and adverse effects of smuggling on the economy.
The CGC was represented by the Zonal Coordinator zone A, Assistant Comptroller General of Customs, ACG Eporwei Charles Edike.
The ACG used the opportunity to interact, motivate and inquired on the welfare and wellbeing of Customs officers serving in the Ohunbe Border Station/Barracks in Yewa North Local Government Area, Ogun state.
At the palace of His Royal Majesty Alayeluwa Oba Kehinde Gbadewole Olugbenle, the Olu of Ilaro and Paramount ruler of Yewa Land, the CG, after pleasantries presented the Oba with statistics of incidents and clashes between Customs officers and persons believed to be citizens of Yewa.
From the statistics, the clashes have regrettably resulted in the loss of life and injuries on both sides. This, the ACG lamented is very unfortunate and must not be allowed to continue.
While calling on the paramount ruler to prevail on his subjects to desist from acts inimical to economic growth and security, Edike also presented list of Prohibited Trade items, Absolute prohibition List and Export prohibition List to the Oba.
He emphasized that the purpose of the visit is to enlighten the people of Yewa and its neighbouring villages on the need to obey and comply with economic policies of the federal government which the Nigeria Customs is mandated to enforce.
According to the Zonal Coordinator:
“smuggling is a crime. It is not tolerated anywhere in the world. Duty paid on imported items is used by the federal government for development. Revenue collected by Customs is part of funds allocated to states monthly to meet their needs. If such revenue is lost because people indulge in smuggling by not paying duty the entire country will be affected”.
Explaining that Customs officers are not enemies of the citizens but Nigerians who have been charged by the federal government to execute specific orders bordering on international trade, the ACG urged the Oba of Yewa land to join hands with Customs in sensitizing his people on the need to work in harmony with Customs officers assigned to work within his community.
In his response, the Olu of Ilaro land said
“My people perish for lack of Knowledge. I will never support criminality, nobody is working against Customs in my community. What is needed is for my people to be enlightened in the language they understand”.
The Kabiyesi called for the establishment of a border development commission to be established for the development of border communities. He decried the absence of Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, by Customs in Yewa. He also asked for employment for his people in Customs. In his words “if we have our people in Customs, communication will be enhanced because illiteracy is a major problem made worse in Yewa by the absence of electricity. Radio and Television are not readily available, you can see that communication is a real challenge here.
The paramount ruler appealed to the CGC to train and retrain officers and men of the Service to smoothen relations with community people in the border communities. The Oba asked the officers in the borders to employ and deploy human psychology in the course of their duties, especially where it involves interactions with the people.