The Nigeria Customs Service has adduced reasons for resorting to the use of armoured personnel carriers (APCs) in combating smuggling activites.
Speaking in an interview with newsmen in Abuja, Public Relations Officer of NCS, Deputy Comptroller Wale Adeniyi said that the armoured carriers were introduced to alter the balance of terror between officers and smugglers.
He said that the Service had lost a number of officers who were either killed during patrol or when trying to move seized goods especially rice to the government warehouse hence the need to acquire the carriers.
“In 2012 specifically, we lost two officers around Seme; in 2013 we lost an officer in Oyo; in Kwara around 2011, we lost three officers. They were killed during either patrols or when they were trying to move seizures to the office. This was why the Nigeria Customs Service saw the need for something that would alter the balance of terror or something that could effectively match the adventurism of the smugglers, grit for grit, strength for strength; that was why management came up with the idea of acquiring those armoured carriers. And I can tell you this; there is a new level of effectiveness or protection, which you feel when you are in those carriers. They are strong, very strong shields,” he said.
Adeniyi said since the acquisition of the APCs, the NCS had not lost any officer in the course of its anti-smuggling duties.
He said with the carriers, officers were able to effectively undergo patrols noting that it has also provided a new level of shield that gives the officers an extra level of confidence.
“It is like during those military days when you have anniversary and you see the military display an array of super vehicles or tanks as what they have in their arsenal. Of course, you are only sending out a message to somebody that look, if you take us on, we have the capacity to absolve what you can inflict on us. We have the ability to retaliate, as well as inflict possibly heavier harms on you in return,” the Customs image maker said.
Adeniyi added that the management has also concluded plans to replicate the same strategy on the waterways with the provision of fast moving boats that would also provide higher level of protection for officers.
“What we are trying to do on the water now is to also provide fast moving boats that similarly offer higher level of protection. It is the most viable way to tackle the illegal rice merchants. They land them in the Republic of Benin and then try to smuggle them home through some of our creeks,” he said.
Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.