Abuja – The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok-Ete Ibas, has advised the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to ensure presence of its personnel at a small Island off Badagry in Lagos.
Ibas gave the advice when he hosted the Comptroller General of the NCSe, Retired Col. Hammed Ali at the Naval Headquarters on Thursday in Abuja.
“I want to call your attention to an island somewhere off Badagary, which is just by the Nigeria/Republic of Benin border at the Tolgegi Island in Badagary.
“I will implore you to consider that island as a strategic island to Nigeria and perhaps to consider placing your men there so that operations cover there.
“Because I know that is one area that smuggling of small arms can thrive in.
“This is a big begging for you because I want to believe that the bulk of the weapons that come into this country come in through our porous borders,” Ibas said.
The naval chief noted that the security challenges facing the country could only be addressed if all the armed forces and paramilitary services collaborate to secure the country.
According to Ibas, the country is faced with serious challenges key among is dwindling revenues to the nation which the Nigeria Customs is one of the pillars through which the nation depend.
“It is therefore imperative we do things differently to enable us as nation survived.”
He said that statutorily, the Nigerian Navy was empowered to provide necessary assistance toward the enforcement of the customs laws in the federation.
Ibas expressed confidence in the ability of the new customs boss to reposition the service to enhance productivity.
“I am happy that you are here to show that you recognised the important role that the Navy needs to play if we have to survive as nation.
“I share in your vision of sanitising the system for enhanced productivity for our economy to survive,” he said.
He expressed readiness of Navy to assist the Nigeria Customs in capacity training and provide the necessary maintenance support for its boat in Lagos, Calabar and Portcourt.
“Let me again assure that for us in the Navy we are ready and willing to partner with you and to support you in your activities.”
Speaking earlier, Ali said that the Nigerian Navy was one of the armed forces that are specifically given the role to support the NCS in the constitution.
“We have nowhere to go but to come to you with all our problems because you are the big brother that will assist us to succeed.
“For us to be able to function effectively, we need to come and to reassert the friendship that is between us and also to strengthen the bond and synergy that has being existing between us,” Ali said.
Besides, the customs boss solicited the assistance of the Nigerian Navy to train its officers for them to be able to do their job effectively.
According to him, the Nigerian Customs have acquired two marine boats and the will required the expertise of Navy in terms of running those boats and even patrolling the waterside.
The comptroller general said that for the NCS to be able to meet its target, it needed trade facilitation which meant that the water ways must be accessible to ships and traders to bring in their goods. (NAN)