The Nigeria Customs Service on Monday vowed to deal ruthlessly with those involved in the smuggling of prohibited items, particularly rice, saying that it was working with the Nigerian Air Force to deploy drones for border surveillance.
The Deputy Comptroller-General, Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection, NCS, Aminu Dangalidima, said this during the issuance of 30 additional Toyota Hilux patrol vehicles to the Strike Force team of the service.
The 30 patrol vehicle brings to 50 the total number of vehicles issued this month to the team.
The DCG said with the release of the vehicles, the service was in a better position to check the activities of rice smugglers.
He stated, “The issuance of the vehicles is part of the Federal Government’s support to curtail smuggling of prohibited items, especially rice. With this robust support coming from the Federal Government, the Nigeria Customs Service is in a better position to deal ruthlessly with the enemies of Nigeria’s security and economic prosperity. “With these vehicles, our response time at the scene of any smuggling activity will be swift and decisive.”
Dangaladima warned officers of the service who would use the vehicles not to compromise their professional integrity in the discharge of their duties.
He said apart from the vehicles, the service was working with the NAF to deploy drones for border surveillance.
This, according to him, will assist in reducing the activities of smugglers at the borders.
He said, “We are using technology to check smuggling and this is part of it. We are even thinking higher than this. We are thinking of having drones and we are also thinking of trying to bring in the Air Force.
“We are also trying to have the un-manned aerial vehicles and others that can assist us; and all these are in progress.”
Dangaladima added that once the service was able to reduce the activities of smugglers, it would result into improved revenue for the government.
“We will be able to boost revenue generation once we are able to block leakages,” he noted
The Federal Government had last week stated that it would shut Nigeria’s land border with a neighbouring country in few days’ time in order to halt the smuggling of rice into the nation.
Although it did not disclose the identity of the neighbouring country, the government stated that the nation in question had been extensively used for the illegal movement of foreign rice into Nigeria, a development that had impacted on the economy adversely.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who made the announcement at a leadership event for youths under the auspices of the Guardians of the Nation International in Abuja, stated that the decision to close the land border had become necessary in order to encourage local production of rice and sustain the nation’s economy.
He had said, “Our other problem is smuggling. As we speak, a neighbour of ours is importing more rice than China is importing.
“They do not eat parboiled rice (in that country); they eat white rice; and they use their ports to try and damage our economy. I am telling you now because in a few days, you will hear that the border has been shut; we are going to shut it to protect you, us and protect our economy.”