Acting Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Bashir Adeniyi, has said the Federal Government has directed the Service to halt all transit cargoes heading to Niger Republic through all land borders and seaports across the country.
This comes as an earlier report had it that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), had sanctioned Niger Republic after presidential guards toppled Mohamed Bazoum and announced Abdrahmane Tchiani, as new president.
To this end, ECOWAS announced border closure against Niger Republic and Nigeria Customs Service on Friday, began enforcement of the directive by shutting the Nigerian- Niger Republic borders across the seven northern states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina Jigawa, Yobe and Borno.
Giving a directive to officers, on Sunday, when he paid a working visit to the Ogun 1 Command of the Service, Idiroko, Ogun State, the Ag Customs CG, said since the closure of the Nigerian- Nigerien borders, transit cargoes may be smuggled through other land border posts in the country.
According to him, all transit cargoes headed for Niger Republic through the other land borders including Idiroko must be stopped.
“I can assure you that implementation of that directive given by the ECOWAS head of states is 100 per cent 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 destabilising the country are still at work. This is a reminder that we can’t afford to rest on our oars as our level of alertness must be 100 percent. You must synegise and cooperate with other agencies of government to achieve this,” he said.
The Customs boss, however, disclosed that with the removal of fuel subsidy, the service would see to the review of the policy on supply of fuel to filling stations that are 20 kilometres to the nation’s borders.
He also hinted 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 which goes beyond the mandate of the Customs service. We are working with the appropriate authorities of government and we will be requesting the review of such polices if the situation warrants it
“If there is compliance of extant law regarding import and export and if we see the support of the communities, we’ll make appropriate recommendations for the review of border closure and importation of tokunbo vehicles through the borders,” he said.
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,” he added.
Moreover, he charged the officers at the command to be focus and rededicate themselves to ensuring national and regional security.
“So, one of the reasons why I’m 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 its crime.
“Smugglers don’t commit only smuggling so, what it means is that they 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 relationship.
Meanwhile, the Customs boss promised to include graduates of the border communities in subsequent recruitment of the service.