By John Iwori
The Western Marine Command (WMC) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has discovered a substance used by terrorist to produce improvised explosive devices (IED), prilled urea was on board a vessel, MV Team Tango said to be at the anchorage.
There were fears that but for the discovery of the substance; there would have been an upsurge in terrorist activities especially the bombing of strategic public places and infrastructures in Nigeria commercial nerve centre, Lagos in the weeks ahead.
The discovery followed a joint inspection of the vessel by a combined team of government agencies, including the NCS and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
This was disclosed by the Customs Area Controller (CAC), WMC, Comptroller Mustspha M. Sarkin Kebbi in a chat with THISDAY at the command headquarters, Apapa, Lagos.
Apparently pleased with the strides he had made since he took the reins of administration from his predecessor, Comptroller Yusuf Umar who was retired from the service last month, Kebbi said: â€œMy first official assignment was on the 27th April, 2017 where I led a team of inspectors from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture delegated by the Office of the National Security Adviser to a vessel MV Team Tango on anchorage that was arrested and detained jointly by the Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigeria Navy.
â€œThe visit was embarked upon to take samples of cargo on board, Prilled Urea presumed to be used by terrorists to manufacture improvised explosive devices (IED)â€.
He expressed hope that he would work harmoniously with other stakeholders to help the WMC to attain set goals and objectives in the months ahead.
â€œI look forward to having a good working relationship with you all and I plead with you to assist the command in showcasing the negative activities of smugglers so as to safeguard our economy and country from the nefarious activities of the organised crime syndicateâ€, he said.
Meanwhile, the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone â€˜Aâ€™ has implored the media to join in the fight against smuggling as it is inimical to the economy. The new Customs Area Controller of the Unit, Comptroller Mohammed Uba Garba made the plea in Lagos.
According to Garba, partnership with the media had become necessary following the increase in smuggling activities within the zone and its negative effect on the economy.
In order to ensure that the nefarious act is brought to the barest minimum, he has vowed to increase surveillance even as he plans to foster increased collaboration with other customs area controllers and sister agencies operating within the border posts.
His words: â€œInformation is key. Without the press, circulation of information will be difficult. As members of the society, we have to partner to move the country forward. It is not possible for us to know what is happening outside without information.Â
Because of the significance of information you will observe that the action of the press would determine if a policy passed by the federal government is accepted by the citizenry or not. We need your support and we oblige you to give us necessary information for us to succeed in the fight. With information, we can know what is happening outsideâ€.
On officers who default on duties they were expected to carry out, the CAC further called on the media to lodge appropriate reports without hesitation. He promised to meet with the patrol leaders including the Comptroller-Generalâ€™s compliance team coordinator to ensure maximum professionalism on the job.
He described smugglers as people who want to make money by all means without putting into cognizance the effect on the economy.
â€œThey carry out these nefarious acts out of ignorance and they want to get much money as possible without thinking about the society in which they are members. We must join hands to fight smuggling and nip it in the bud,â€ Garba said.