The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) seems overwhelmed by efforts to combat importation of smuggled poultry products into the country as the products have again resurfaced everywhere in the market barely a month after it relaxed its campaign tagged ‘Operation Hawk Descend’.
Controller, Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone ‘A’- one of the anti smuggling arms of the NCS in Lagos, Comptroller Sanni Magudu while briefing journalists at the unit on Tuesday admitted that the porous nature of the borders is a major factor that has made it difficult for customs to effectively tackle the menace.
He noted that Customs is unable to man the whole border posts because the Service does not have enough officers that will police the border stations.
“This smuggling of poultry products is a national disaster. Nigerians and foreigners who put heads together are busy smuggling poultry product 24/7 of the day and the Nigeria borders are so porous and even if as customs officers we decided to hold our hands round the whole borders of Nigeria, our number cannot cover the borders, officers must sleep, do shifts for us to get optimal result.
“Even if you now send your officer to sit down at border stations or on patrol for 24/7 without sleep, it is not possible, may be within that period through the water canals they (smugglers) will bring it in.
“We are on the road, at the border but we can’t cover the whole bush the smugglers know the bush path because most of them are born in that terrain. The chain is so sophisticated,” he said
The Customs boss also lamented that another challenge faced in its operation is lack of information on the activities of smugglers from Nigerians especially from host communities noting that Customs officers cannot operate without intelligence.
“The only problem we are having is that some Nigerians are not giving us information, customs officers can operate without information or intelligence. Share information with us and we would be ready to strike,” he said.
He however assured that the unit is strategizing on how to fully block the supply chains of the smugglers with a view to ensuring degradation of their antics adding that it is the responsibility of Customs in ensuring that Nigeria is not used as a dumping ground for “un-customed” goods.
He said as part of effort taken to check smuggling, the unit under his watch had adopted an all inclusive methodology involving its host communities and made effort to improve Customs Community relation as well as collaboration with critical stakeholders.
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