The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, through its executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran has tongue-lashed officers of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, for carrying out their operations in what he called an “armed robbery-like” manner.
He described the actions of the officials from the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) who went to Sango area of Ogun State, broke into shops at midnight to seize bags of rice as “barbaric and totally condemnable.”
The CACOL Chairman said “the modus operandi displayed in the Sango raid by the FOU and the circumstances is replica of the last seizure of pump action rifles at Mile 2 Expressway, Lagos where illegal items are discovered at several kilometers from their entry points.
“Now, assuming without conceding that items seized from Sango, (a town that’s about 50 kilometers from the Nigerian borders manned by the NCS with several check posts on the highways at different intervals) are banned items, the questions to ask will be – how did the items pass through the nets of NCS check posts before getting to Sango? How can a potential buyer, identify whether food items such rice and vegetable oil is smuggled or not?
“It is irresponsible of the NCS that have to continued sustain ineffective methods of tackling smuggling to turn round to abuse innocent and law abiding Nigerians with the ‘armed robbery-like’ manner the operatives of the Service were reported to have invaded the Sango rice market.
“The truth is that occurrences like the Sango episode has always been rampant across the country to such a ridiculous levels that men of NCS harass Nigerians in Abuja for instance over vehicles allegedly illegally imported through the Benin – Nigeria border!
“This crude and failed mode of manning our borders is at the very heart of the incessant and unnecessary clashes over banned items with the seeming undying nature of illegality called smuggling.
“The borders of most countries with security consciousness are very well monitored to control and nip in the bud incidences like this. The porosity of any country’s border determines what can get in or out of such country.
“It is time that the corrupt elements in the State agencies, establishments, Services etc are weeded out because they abet and even help contrive the illegalities that takes place at our borders to a very large extent.
“On occasions where smugglers beat the NCS operatives at the border, there are more intelligent and non-violent ways that could be deployed by the NCS operatives based on their training as Custom officers to apprehend and prosecute the criminal elements behind smuggling of illegal items into the country.
“To achieve this FG and NCS must be pro-active in working to genuinely kick corruption out of the rank and file of the Customs services. The NCS must also reprimand the men who carried out Sango rice market invasion as a failure to do this would only encourage the festering of the ineffective ways that had been repeatedly deployed by the Service.”