The Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, has expressed worry about recurring clashes between Customs officers and residents of some border towns.
Ali, who was represented by the Zonal Coordinator, NCS Zone A, Charles Edike, at a sensitisation campaign in Yewa North Local Government Area, Ogun State, described such incidents as unfortunate.
He was quoted in a statement as saying, “These clashes have regrettably resulted in the loss of lives on both sides. It must not be allowed to continue.
“The purpose of this visit is to enlighten the people of Yewa and its neighbouring villages on the need to comply with economic policies of the Federal Government, which the Nigeria Customs Service is mandated to enforce.”
Ali called on the Olu of Ilaro and the paramount ruler of Yewa, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, to prevail on his subjects to desist from acts inimical to economic growth and security.
He also presented the list of prohibited trade items, absolute prohibition list and export prohibition list to the Oba.
Ali said, “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 the 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.”
Customs officers, according to him, are not enemies of the citizens but Nigerians who have been charged by the government to execute specific orders bordering on international trade.
Ali urged Oba Olugbenle to partner the Customs in sensitising his people to the need to work in harmony within his community.
In his response, the traditional ruler said, “I will never support criminality; nobody is working against the Customs in my community. What is needed is for my people to be enlightened in the language they understand.”
He called for the establishment of a border development commission, decrying the absence of Corporate Social Responsibility projects by the Customs in Yewa.
He said, “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.”
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