By John Iwori
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has decried what it called the “incessant attacks” on its personnel in the course of carrying out their statutory roles and responsibilities.
The service expressed dismay that a many of its personnel carrying out their official functions especially in the border towns and communities were attacked by smugglers.
Though the number of officers involved was not made public, THISDAY checks revealed that several men and officers were attacked by smugglers in recent times and in the process killed or maimed for life.
It was gathered that the worst affected ones are those serving in Nigeria’s premier borders such as Leila, Idiroko, Shaki, and Seme.
According to impeccable sources, those injured in these attacks are yet to fully recover, several weeks and months they were discharged from the hospitals just as many have been incapacitated and are longer in a position to fend for themselves and families.
Confirming the development, the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Seme Command, Comptroller Victor David Dimka declared that NCS will not tolerate attacks on its personnel by smugglers and their collaborators.
Dimka who is known for his exploits in tackling smugglers and their activities in his previous postings such as the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A. Ikeja, Lagos and Zone C, Owerri, Imo State also re-iterated that the enforcement unit of the command remains undeterred in the aggressive patrol against smuggling activities across the border.
He maintained that no campaign of calumny will stop the command from combating and suppressing smuggling activities to a minimal level.
The CAC noted that a situation where officers performing their legitimate functions are always ambushed and maimed with dangerous weapons is not acceptable to the service.
While reviewing the command’s performances last month, he revealed that NCS recorded what he called an “upsurge in her revenue drive” for the month of June, 2016.
He said in a statement signed by the command’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mr. Taupyen Selchang the CAC said it collected N695, 292,849.76, which represents about 69 per cent of its monthly target.
According to him, the command also recorded 64 seizures with a duty paid value (DPV) of N 35,693,712.28 during the period under review.
The CAC disclosed that the increased revenue in June indicates a gradual increase in the economic activities across the land border.
To curb the spate of attacks on its personnel, Dimka noted that the command had used different forums like the Customs Community Consultative Forum (CCCF) and the Joint Border Security Meeting (JBSM) to sensitise the border communities on the danger of smuggling to Nigeria’s economy.
He called on community and opinion leaders and other stakeholders to sensitise those who take pleasure in smuggling at all cost despite government policies banning the importation of such goods.
Dimka emphasised that the host communities should be seen as collaborators with NCS and not saboteurs who circumvent the effective implementation of Federal Government policies.
He attributed the rise in the command’s revenue to the commencement of the flexible the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) foreign exchange policy of the Federal Government which allows for the determination of the exchange rate by market forces.
The Customs Chief also attributed the increase in revenue in June 2016 to the commitment and dedication of his officers and men to the tripartite function of the service.
“We will remain resolute and undaunted in the pursuit of our core mandate of suppression of smuggling at the busiest land border in West Africa, focusing on the collection of maximum revenue and facilitation of legitimate trade across the frontier”, he said.