The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) yesterday said it intercepted three boats loaded with marijuana along an unnamed waterway in Lagos.
The Customs Zone `A’ Coordinator, Assistant Comptroller-General Charles Edike, made the disclosure in Lagos during a visit to the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF).
Edike said the boats were intercepted by officers of the Western Marine Command on Sunday, adding that the smugglers had been arrested and would be made to face the full wrath of the law.
The zonal coordinator said that smuggling activities on waterways had been on the increase in recent times.
He, however, said that men of the service were fully on the alert to check illegal activities of water smugglers.
“Smugglers have resorted to using the waterways to carry out their nefarious activities but I can assure you that men of the service are up to the task to check this criminality.
“Just three days ago, our men intercepted three boats fully loaded with marijuana. Our men from the Western Marine Command got the smugglers.
“We will increase our patrols both on land and waters to ensure that smugglers and other economic saboteurs have no hiding place,” Edike said.
He said that the service would not yield to calls in some quarters to take away its men on some Federal highways as the deployment was meant to check smugglers who used the highways to carry out their illegal activities.
The zonal coordinator said men of the service had made large seizures of arms from smugglers on some highways, especially around Idiroko in Ogun and Iseyin in Oyo State
Edike said the incidents justified continuous patrols by officers on the highway.
He said more officers had been deployed to bush routes used by smugglers around Seme border, saying that the strategy was to ensure that smuggling activities were limited in the area.
Edike called on NAGAFF to collaborate with Customs in boosting revenue collection.
“These are indeed hard times. The price of crude oil is falling, so are imports declining. So the revenue focus is on non-oil, especially revenue from the Customs.
“We know that one hand cannot wash itself clean. It takes both hands to clean each other.
“That is why at this critical time, we are seeking the support of you freight forwarders to work with us to improve our revenue,” he said.
He said the NCS would need the collaboration of freight forwarders in the area of intelligence so as to ensure that every kobo that was due to government was paid. He urged members of the association to report shady activities of unscrupulous Customs personnel to the service for appropriate action.
He admonished NAGAFF members to always advise the Customs on how it could improve its service in the overall interest of port users and the nation.
The zonal coordinator said the service was exploring a number of ways to ensure freight forwarders had seamless operations at the ports.
On complaints about dysfunctional scanners, Edike regretted the situation, saying that the service was doing everything possible to ensure the scanners were put to work.
He said the Comptroller-General, Retired Col. Hameed Ali, had briefed the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, about the situation, expressing the hope that something would be done soon.
The Founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, thanked the Customs boss for seeking collaboration with freight forwarders on efficiency and revenue drive.
He said the association would give the Customs the appropriate support to ensure that it improved its revenue in the interest of the nation.
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