The Area Controller, Western Marine Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Zakka Audu, has expressed concern over how smugglers escape arrest from officers after their smuggled goods are impounded.
Unlike policing the land borders, the command which has its headquarters in Lagos, is saddled with the responsibility of patrolling coastal areas of Igbokoda in Ondo State, Kebbi in Kebbi State, Yekeme, Badagry and Idiroko all in the South West, and ensure that smuggled items from these axis do not find their way into the Nigerian market.
Addressing journalists on Tuesday in Lagos, Audu said he was not happy that after intercepting the smuggled goods, the smugglers often times escaped arrest by jumping into the water on sighting the officers.
This, according to him, is due to the challenge that some of the officers are not properly trained on marine operations.
He said that as a major challenge, he would discuss with the management team on the need for proper training of marine officers on how to pursue smugglers on the waterways.
“On sighting officers, the smugglers often escape by jumping into the waters and I don’t think my officers are properly trained to pursue them inside the creeks.
“With these, I think we would have to make recommendations to the management for us to have proper training of marine officers to be very efficient in swimming and how to pursue smugglers in water We are not happy that we are not able to apprehend anybody,” he said.
Meanwhile, the customs boss said the command intercepted 1,280 bags of rice worth N9.3 and 93 kegs of vegetable oil valued at N396, 640.00.
He said the items were smuggled into the country with a big boat and intercepted at Agbede, Yekeme, Badagry axis.
Audu said that importation of rice was not banned if imported through the approved route.
He said even with the threats from the smugglers who try to retrieve the seized smuggled goods from his officers, they were able to bring the boat used in carrying the smuggled rice.
While warning smugglers to desist from the act, the customs boss reiterated the command’s commitment in ensuring that smugglers are forced out of business.