By Kenneth Jukpor
The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hammed Ali (Rtd.) has commended the Area Controller of the Idiroko Command; Comptroller Peter Kolo and singled out seventeen officers for commendation for anti-smuggling efforts in the border region.
The Zonal Coordinator, Zone A Headquarters, NCS, Assistant Comptroller-General (ACG) Modupe Aremu presenter the letters of commendation to the Customs officers in Idiroko when she visited the Ogun 1 Customs Command yesterday.
Aremu assured the officers that Ali was concerned about their welfare and perturbed by the rising attacks and killing of officers around the border areas by smugglers.
The Customs Zonal boss, who mourned the recent killing of an officer of the Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ at the weekend, informed that investigations have commenced.
Earlier, the Area Controller, Koko at Idiroko lamented that due to the prolonged border closure at the Idiroko, the border community has become more hostile, venting their anger on the officers and Customs properties at slightest provocation.
Comptroller Koko explained that the aggressive tendencies of the residents of the border community is a result of absence of jobs since the border closure which hinders legitimate cross-border trade.
The CAC also stressed that there is not enough manpower at the Command, stating that the staff strength of the command has dropped from the average of 1250 officers before he assumed office to 526 as at the time he resumed.
The CAC also lamented that five out of about 24 Hilux vehicles belonging to the command have already been burnt by frustrated community residents while urging the ACG to use her office to ensure that the command gets more operational vehicles.
As part efforts to gain stakeholders’ support in the fight against smuggling, the Area Controller noted that he has visited 27 traditional rulers in the border community to ensure synergy between the community and the Customs towards addressing the menace of smuggling.