…Why it’s difficult to stop arms smuggling— C-G Customs
…Says NCS hasn’t recruited personnel since 2004
By Tordue Salem
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, directed Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, to improve surveillance and control around the nation’s borders.
He directed the service to ensure that criminals do not find Nigeria as a safe haven to hide and perpetrate their criminality.
The president’s directive came on a day the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Ahmadu Ali (retd), told the House of Representatives that the agency was yet to contain the smuggling of arms into the country because smugglers were protected by people of border communities.
According to a statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari gave the directive in his speech at the virtual inauguration of NIS Technology Building.
Adesina quoted the president as instructing all security agencies to raise their performance in protecting lives and property, with a mandate that the country’s Global Security Index must be improved.
He promised them his regime would give the needed support for their operations and urged the NIS to collaborate with international security organisations, such as INTERPOL, in safeguarding the borders.
He said: “As a security agency, I charge you to be relentless in carrying out your statutory duties of keeping our borders safe while you ensure that criminal elements don’t find Nigeria as a safe haven to hide and perpetrate their criminality.
“I urge you to actively collaborate with international security organisations like the INTERPOL, in safeguarding our borders. Remember that a safe border is a prerequisite for a safe nation.
The president commended the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, for consistently pushing for the completion of the Technology Building, which will serve as the Command and Control Centre of the NIS, as well as the repository of personal data of Nigerians and expatriates resident in Nigeria.
In his remarks, Aregbesola was qouted as assuring all that the security challenges facing the country were temporary and surmountable.
On his part, the Comptroller General of NIS, Muhammed Babandede, said the Technology Building remained the best project the service had ever initiated and completed since it was established in 1958.
Why it’s difficult to stop arms smuggling— C-G Customs
Meanwhile, the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Ahmadu Ali (retd), yesterday, told the House of Representatives that people living in border communities were making it difficult for the Customs to contain the smuggling of arms into the country.
Ali, who disclosed this at a budget 2020/2021 defence and consideration session organised by the House Committee on Customs in Abuja, said: “Our biggest problem with stopping arms smuggling is that border communities gang up against us, kill us and burn our vehicles.
‘’They gang up to fight us, because they think the bandits (who smuggle arms), are more important to their lives than us. We need other agencies and communities to help us. Until that is done, Customs is willing to do what it can, to stop that.
“There is no nation that has been able to stop arms smuggling. I understand there are complaints that how can Customs not stop this? But we cannot effectively police borders. We can only make efforts through the third tier to curtail smuggling. Other agencies and people in the border communities must help us.’’
NCS hasn’t recruited personnel since 2004
The Customs boss, who was responding to a plethora of questions from members of the committee on the subject, also said the agency had not recruited personnel since 2004.
“As for recruitment, I want to say that It is only the President that can decide. It is not within our purview to do that. If we take the issue to the President, he will ask if we have enough resources to pay the people we are recruiting. We must convince him that we have the funds to pay them. The committee must know that Customs has had 17 years without recruitment,” he said.
He also told the committee that of the N13 billion budget made available to the Customs from 2018-2020, only about N17 million was utilised, provoking an outrage from the lawmakers.
The CG, also denied that the agency was involved in budget manipulations, insisting that some budget provisions regarding purchases of vehicles and other capital projects were rolled over to other years because the projects attached to them were either delayed or not approved by the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP.