The ban is unreasonable. If they say the camouflage is being abused, don’t they have a way of checkmating officers for abuses? Will they throw away the water and the baby because they say people are abusing it? The reason of security implication is not tenable. If an armed robber uses the camouflage that is a crime and impersonation, so they deal with the situation. If they say the camouflage gets to the hands of the robbers and criminals, is that enough reason to restrict it to the army alone? What is the assurance that with the restriction, it will still not get to the hands of the criminals? Are they in a way indicting these other paramilitary officers that this uniform gets to the criminals through the laxity exhibited by these officers? A situation where officers are given the burden to sew the uniform themselves is the reason why the camouflage is proliferating. Customs job like the military is rugged – this uniform at times is necessary if they want to use it for functions or duties that involve ruggedness which requires that they should wear camouflage. The only way to checkmate the abuse in Nigeria is that the law should be strengthened.
Barrister Lewis Mgbolu
The reason for the ban is purely based on security realities and it has a lot to do with the Boko Haram insurgency. But the insurgents are not in most parts of the country. The larger part of the country where Customs are really fighting smuggling is the South West and to a large extent the purpose of camouflage as the name implies is to shield you while you are hiding. I think the camouflage is good for security agencies like Customs and the Police Force because they also do what is similar to what the military does. So I do not support the outright ban. It is not only camouflage uniform that is proliferating; we have heard cases of armed robbers putting on army, police uniforms which are not camouflage uniforms to commit crimes. They don’t even use the camouflage. The government should adopt a more proactive approach towards fighting the insurgency. If there is a collective will on the part of the military and paramilitary, I think the insurgency will be overcome.
I am not interested in whether they ban it or not because I don’t see any impact the wearing of camouflage uniform has had on the society. Customs has camouflage but why did they buy the camouflage in the first place? The question is will camouflage give them greater strength to combat smugglers? What is in a uniform? Does it affect the body inside or the person wearing it? Is the person wearing it authorised to wear it? What matters is the incentive or the zeal to combat smugglers whether it is camouflage [they are wearing] or plain. The Civilian Joint Task Force in the Northern part of the country do not have uniform and they are fighting for survival. So to me, the camouflage uniform makes no difference.
To me, I don’t think restricting it to the military will bring solutions to the problem of proliferation because the officers are still made to sew this camouflage uniform themselves which is wrong. If the officers have to provide it themselves, it will always get out of hand but if the authorities provide it for them, to proliferate it will be very difficult. I think Customs officers also need the uniform because they are paramilitary. They need the uniform, especially those at the borders.
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