Barely a few weeks to Christmas and the New Year, tackling smuggling remains an uphill task for the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). The more the operatives of the enforcement unit of the agency strategize to nip the criminal activities of smugglers in the bud, the more smugglers continue to perfect ways to outwit them.
The anti-smuggling campaign of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), a specialized enforcement arm of Customs, saddled with the responsibility of battling smuggling in the Zone ‘A’ ‘B’ ‘C’ and‘D’ of the Service, especially through the land borders, continues to grapple with the reality of how porous the Nigerian borders are.
Therefore, an easy gateway for all sorts of goods like rice, frozen products, used vehicles, bales of new and used textiles, cartons of wine, tomatoes, etc.
The controller, of FOU Zone ‘A’ comptroller Sani Magudu has been reported to have boasted that he and his men will make the season a black yuletide for smugglers by blocking the supply chains of smugglers to ensure sustained suppression of smuggling to the barest minimum. This, after recording seizures of over N187 million made during the week.
That is huge, but what begs the question is, if the anti-smuggling campaigns of Customs is so effective why is smuggling thriving, how did all the frozen poultry products in the markets get there? And the fake, expired and substandard foods and drugs on the shelves, how did they get there? The excuse of ignorance of what is prohibited and what is not prohibited by a section of the trading community, is perhaps a cover-up, otherwise explain the absurd persistent scourge of smuggling in the country despite obvious severe penalties for culprits involved.
At Customs FOU Zone ‘C’, under the alert watch of the Controller in-Charge of the Unit, Mr. Victor Dimka, there are allegations of unlawful activities of criminals who have been extorting money from traders and business men operating from some states of South East to Oron in Cross Rivers State, claiming to be customs officers.
Meanwhile, Dimka has been assuring importers to stop avoiding Customs patrol, on the claim that he has set up a task force to fish out the criminal elements who have been parading themselves as customs operatives. If this be the case, Dimka should learn to put the horse before the cart and not the other way round.
The story is not much different from the Zones ‘B’ and ‘D’ up north.
It will be most regrettable for the Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC) Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.), with all his assertions to zero tolerance for corruption and his mandate to ensure that maximum revenue is collected into government coffers, if he overlooks the massive revenue lost to Customs due to the activities of smugglers and those aiding them, because right now, Smugglers are having a field day.