The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali, on Wednesday, disclosed that smugglers use donkeys and motorcycles in smuggling arms and ammunition into the country.
Appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise, Ali said it had become worrisome that Nigerians living in border communities were unaware that smuggling was an illegal business, as they actively collaborate with smugglers.
He revealed that the NCS was working on a policy to reduce the years on imported vehicles to ensure that Nigeria is not turned into a dumping ground for rickety automobiles, noting that the agency was also doing everything within its powers to ensure that it blocks illegal arms from entering the country.
He noted that scanners would soon be deployed in land borders, as part of the measures put in place to quickly know the content of containers.
His words: ”The influx of arms through approved routes will be eliminated because we will have instruments to detect things in containers or whatever packages they are concealed in.
“But the issue is that arms do not come through approved routes alone. Some are carried on the back of donkeys coming in through unapproved routes and some on the back of motorcycles. Some of these communities in the border areas are part of the schemes of moving these things into this country.
“We have lost officers and vehicles to these smugglers at border communities. We have stopped counting the number of vehicles we have lost because almost daily, we get reports that our vehicles have been burnt by smugglers in collaboration with hoodlums in these border communities.
“In some places, they are not even aware that smuggling is against the law. In one community, I saw and greeted a woman. I asked after her husband and what he does for a living. She said what he does was smuggling. As far as they are concerned, they don’t even know smuggling is illegal because it is a way of life.
“It is our responsibility as Nigerians to educate these people on what is right and what is wrong. That is the only way we can enforce the law.”
Urging the people to always share information with security agents, Ali said: ”The issue of security does not fall on the shoulder of one agency. It is everybody’s business.
“I have always asked a question whenever there is the abduction of children in the far North, 100 to 200 people will ride on motorcycles, pass through villages and towns and go to where they are targeting, pick children and ride back through the same route in broad daylight and nothing happens.
“It is only when these children are fully secured in the bush by their abductors that you hear the news. What is the responsibility of citizens? Must it be a policeman that will stop these people? Everybody has business in ensuring security. We don’t pass information.”
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