By CECILIA IJUO
ABUJA- The Nigeria Customs Service says its men are on alert at entry points to Nigeria to intercept military camouflage and other items that can be used to disrupt the General Elections.
The Spokesperson of the service, Comptroller Timi Bomodi, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in (NAN) Abuja on Sunday.
He said the service was not relenting in its anti-smuggling effort
According to him, it is not unlikely for some unethical politicians to want to play games around smuggling such dangerous items for the sake of the election.
Bomodi said the enforcement process had began to yield result.
“A case in point is the report from the Murtala Muhammed Airport of arrest of people who attempted to bring in Police uniforms, camouflage, bullet proof vests and all kind of things.
“So, our men are on high alert at all our entry points.”
The spokesperson said the service had put in measures to track such dangerous items no matter how well concealed.
“We just installed scanners in three of our major ports, Apapa, Tiincan and Onne ports.
“We are using that type of technology for more tedious search of containers coming in.
“All our airports will also have scanners where we can scan things that people are bringing in.
“At the border locations, we have different intervention forces and we know that they have been effective.
“So, we are pretty sure that we have covered all the basis for this election and beyond,” he said.
He said, “our enforcement officers are doing good job as we can all see that the reports of anti smuggling operations are everywhere in the media and they are not fictitious.
“We see the items and we see some of the suspects arrested .
“We know that on a daily basis, people are thinking of new ways to beat the system but we are also thinking of new ways to block their activities.
“All our government warehouses across the country are full to the brim and in some states there is no space to keep some of the smuggled things.”
On operational hazards faced by officers in the course of their duties, Bomodi said while there was no doubt that the service had lost men, it would not relent in its anti-smuggling drive.
He said the service had purchased fortified all-terrain vehicles while officers were equally equipped to battle smugglers.
According to him, the service has deployed technology to track smugglers and put them on the offensive,.
The spokesperson said the capacity of the joint border patrol team had also been enhanced to deal with criminals bent on breaking the law.
“We have lost so many officers and a lot have been permanently injured and can no longer function as customs officers.
“We are not relenting because we know they are coming for us, so we come prepared,” he said.
Bomodi said besides the stick approach to ending smuggling, the service was adopting the carrot approach.
“The carrot has always been through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
“We are engaging the border communities in a way that we tell them why it is important to be on the side of government in the enforcement of fiscal policies.
“Whatever we do has a direct impact on government to earn revenue.
“If government earns revenue it means it can finance its budget and if government can finance its budget it will also improve the livelihood of the people including the border communities.”
Bomodi said part of the CSR was the provision of Customs clinics and schools to border communities.
He also said the recent recruitment process of the service emphasised application from all local government areas of the country including border towns.
Bomodi said the recruitment of people in border communities into the service would go a long way in reducing tension that existed between officers and the border community dwellers. (NAN)