By Godfrey Bivbere & Ebuka Oko
Customs Area Controller, CAC, of Seme Border Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Garba Uba Mohammed, has resorted to a dialogue with the border communities close to Owode, a renowned smuggling route, over open display of smuggled foreign parboiled rice for sale.
Vanguard Maritime Report gathered that the dialogue became necessary following an open confrontation with exchange of gun shots between one of the Units of the Customs and the community militants as the NCS officers attempted to impound the products on display.
It was learnt that traditional rulers, youth groups, traders and other members of the communities were present at the meeting.
A source present at the meeting told Vanguard Maritime Report that community leaders said their involvement in the illicit trade was due to the absence of jobs for their youths and called on the Customs boss to provide jobs for their children.
When contacted the CAC said he was not aware of any confrontation with any community but however confirmed that there was indeed a meeting which was only a routine sensitisation of the border community to discourage them from embarking on the illicit trade and educating them on the impact on the nation’s economy.
Mohammed said he told them that his visit was not to destroy existing relationship but to enlighten them of the dangers of smuggling.
According to him, “Government rules and regulations must be accepted, because if there is no government in place, the smugglers will be in danger because somebody who is stronger than you will over-power you and collect everything from you; but it is the presence of the government that even makes the environment safe for you to do these illegal activities.
“I told them that some of you this traditional rulers, do you get paid? They said yes, they pay them monthly. I explained to them that the same money being generated by state security agencies is where they get the salaries from.”