The Federal Government has directed officers of the Nigeria Customs Service
(NCS) to henceforth stop all transit cargoes heading to Niger Republic from all
land borders and seaports across the country.
Recall that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), had
sanctioned Niger Republic, a land-locked country, after the country’s presidential
guards ousted the democratically elected President, Mohamed Bazoum and
announced Abdrahmane Tchiani as the new president. The sanctions included
border closure against Niger Republic.
However, giving fresh directive to officers and men of the NCS on Sunday when
he paid a working visit to the Ogun 1 Command of the Service in Idiroko, Ogun
State, the Ag. Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, said
that since the Nigerian-Nigerien borders has been shut, importers may want to
move transit cargoes bound for Niger Republic through other Land border posts
in the country, thus the need for Customs officers to stop such cargoes.
According to the Customs acting CG, “We are monitoring what’s happening in
Niger Republic and I can assure you that implementation of that directive given
by the ECOWAS Heads of States is 100 percent and when that is happening,
smugglers will want to explore openings in other borders, and may want to use
other routes. All transit goods heading for Niger Republic should be stopped.”
“This time, we need to be vigilant because those bent on destroying the
country are still at work. This is, therefore, a reminder that we can’t afford to
rest on our oars as our level of alertness must be 100 percent. You must
synergize and cooperate with other agencies of government to achieve this.”
The Customs boss also disclosed that with the removal of fuel subsidy, the
Service would make recommendations that the policy ban on supply of fuel to
filling stations that are within 20kilometres to the nation’s borders be reviewed.
He, however, disclosed that the service will review some of its policies if the
compliance level of the border communities is high.
“There are a number of issues that our border communities have put across to
us and some of them go beyond the mandate of the Customs service because
some of them are polices done by authorities that are higher than us but I can
assure you that we are working along with appropriate authorities of
government and we will be requesting the review of such polices if we see
situation that warrant such review at the borders.
“If there is compliance of extant law regarding import and export around us and
if we see the support of the communities working with government agencies to
enforce those laws, if we see our communities supporting government agencies
of course, we will make appropriate recommendation for the review of border
closure, importation of tokunbo vehicles through the borders and most
importantly because of the removal of subsidy, we may also call for the review
of restriction of petrol filling stations in and around our borders.”
Moreover, he charged the officers at the command to be focused and rededicate
themselves to ensuring national and regional security.
“One of the reasons why I’m also here this morning is to reiterate the need for
all our agencies to remain focused and committed towards the ideal of national
and regional security. Idiroko is a very strategic gateway into Nigeria and of
course, into the Benin republic and by extension, the sub region. So, we cannot
afford to allow criminals who thrive in perpetrating crimes across our borders,
do things that are inimical to our national security.
“So this is why I’m here this morning to remind ourselves of our collective
mandate. Collective mandates to keep away criminals operating around our
borders, whether they come in the manner of smuggling, human trafficking,
drug trafficking or things that will affect our public health.
“We have a collective responsibility to confront them, and beat them to their
game. For us in Customs, we believe that no one agency can do this alone, we
need to work together, we need to collaborate together. The dynamics of crime
has changed over the years and there is no single criminal that come to our
border and perpetrate only one crime.
“Smugglers don’t commit only smuggling, they also engage in illegal smuggling
of arms and ammunitions. Most human traffickers, most of the time also take
currencies away from the country. They are also guilty of money laundering,
and illegal currencies trafficking across the border,” he stated.
The Customs CG who visited the Oniko of Ikojaye Land, Idiroko, Oba Olàkunle
Ojo and the Onipokia of Ipokia kingdom, Oba Yisa Adelakun Olaniyan, sought
the understanding, cooperation and support of the border communities while
carrying out their duties.
Adeniyi also directed a quarterly meeting between the Ogun border command
and members of the Ipokia host communities in other to foster good working
Lastly, the Customs boss promised to include graduates of the border
communities in subsequent recruitment of the service.