Deputy Comptroller General, Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Tahir Musa, said yesterday that the service was determined to reduce smuggling to the barest minimum.
Tahir said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that NCS was not unconscious of the negative impact of the activities of smugglers on the economy.
He, however, acknowledged that the task of drastically reducing the activities of smugglers would not be an easy one.
Tahir said that it was on record that no country had eliminated smuggling in spite of their efforts.
He said, ” Smuggling is a worldwide phenomenon because even the most developed countries of the world are still fighting smuggling up till today and they have not succeeded in eliminating smuggling.
“The best any Customs administration or any Customs Service can do is to minimise it to the barest minimum.
“The U.S., which is the greatest country in the world today, is always complaining about the Mexican border and along the Mexican border, they have deployed all kinds of things.
“They have fences, they have wired fences, they have snooping devices, they have devices buried underground, they have aircraft, they have everything, yet the Mexican border still remains porous.”
Musa said that the Federal Government had provided increased support for NCS to fight smuggling but that the agency was still faced with challenges.
He, however, said that in spite of the challenges, NCS had been able to achieve much in checking the activities of smugglers, in addition to performing other security functions.
“We have arrested illegal aliens that we handed over to the immigration. We have seized drugs that were handed over to NDLEA.
“We are in the JTF (Joint Military Task Force) working hand in hand with the military even though in non-combatant role fighting the Boko Haram in different parts of the nation,” he said.
He said the Service was determined to intensify its war against smuggling during the year and had acquired 200 Hilux trucks to boost anti-smuggling operations.
He said although checkpoints had been abolished by NCS, the personnel could carry out patrols based on reasonable suspicion.
“We are adequately covered by our legal provision that the Custom is free to go to any place where there is reasonable suspicion or there are credible information.
“The law covers us to enter any premises to carry out raids and recover or remove or intercept whatever that is smuggled or unregistered goods and arrest whosoever that is responsible.
“Anti- smuggling activity is a total war but the only thing we will not do is to engage in the establishment of checkpoints in the hinterland because that has been banned,” he said.
Tahir said the service recorded tremendous success in its anti-smuggling activities in 2014 which resulted in 7,519 seizures valued at N8.78 billion and 246 arrests out of which 26 convictions were secured.
He said the anti-smuggling operation during the period was higher than that of 2013 in terms of quantity and value.
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