Border Closure: Customs Loses Battle To Waterway Smugglers - AMEBO ONLINE NEWSPAPER


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Border Closure: Customs Loses Battle To Waterway Smugglers

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Following Federal Government’s decision to keep the nation’s borders closed indefinitely, die-hard smugglers are beating men and officers of the Nigeria Customs Service to their duties by taking advantage of porous waterways and creeks to intensify their illegal trade.

Findings by New Telegraph revealed that the daring action by the criminals is made possible as the new patrol boats acquired by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) at a whopping cost of N180 billion are yet to function properly.

Currently, the service is facing inadequate patrol boats to combat the illegalities at Port Novo, Gbaji, Badagry, Yewa, Ologe, and Commodore creeks.

It was gathered that unscrupulous businessmen and women have been exploiting the loopholes to smuggle goods since the closure of the borders.

The borders were closed in August 20, 2019 by the Federal Government to curtail influx of fake goods and arms smuggling.

However, the service has not recorded much success on the waterways because of the dangerous and sophisticated weapons used by smugglers.

The gun boats are presently redundant as they have not been adequately fitted with the necessary surveillance and combat kits and guns.

An official within the NCS’s Western Marine Command, who does not want his name mentioned, said that smuggling of fuel products through the sea was on the increase, noting that tankers were no longer carrying fuels to border communities where the products are smuggled to neighbouring Benin Republic with jerry cans.

Notwithstanding, he explained that Customs had trained some officer on sea smuggling combat both in the western and eastern commands, saying that insufficient equipment was the main problems of the command.

“This has put the service’s marine command under unbearable pressure to combat the illegal traders using the creeks and lagoon to smuggle banned imports,” he stressed.

When the joint border exercise was launched, the Customs Comptroller General, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), said that the two gunboats would strengthen anti-smuggling activities on the nation’s waters and enhance the ongoing joint border closure exercise.

He added that with the boats, the marine operatives of NCS could now sail to intersect smugglers right on the high sea.

The Controller in charge of the command, Comptroller Boyiliya Binga, advised the unscrupulous traders last month to stop the illegal trade, saying that with new patrol boats acquired by the service, days of confrontation by smugglers were over.

He said: “We have been making pleas to these smugglers to stop their evil trade and engage in meaningful businesses that will benefit them and the country, but they are determined to go ahead with their nefarious activities.”

Binga listed the seizures made in the period to include 433 bags of 50kilogrammes foreign parboiled rice, bags of second-hand clothes, bags of second-hand shoes, buffalo horns, bales of foreign fabrics, bales of mobile police, immigration and navy uniforms, machetes, tramadol and 3,000 empty kegs.

The comptroller general had said earlier that smugglers would no longer take advantage of NCS vulnerability on water to smuggle in contraband with the launch of the new patrol vessels.

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