Kasim Sumaina and Tayo Olaleye in Abuja
The Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) has said the Service have to be strict in order to meet its mandate of tackling crime of smuggling of illegal goods into the country.
Ali, while speaking at a recent book presentation entitled â€˜Appraisal of the Crime of Smuggling in Nigeriaâ€™, said smuggling has been a major problem of the Nigerian Customs and any attempt to offer solutions to it will be welcomed.
According to him, â€œSince I took over the Nigerian Customs Service, if there is anything that we have been battling with, if there’s anything that is a big challenge to us is smuggling.â€
He said: â€œWe have been accused of delay or not practicing ease of doing business. But, I always say that we cannot ease business at the detriment of securing our people. And, allowing containers to go, the 2,671 pump rifles that we intercepted would have go into the society and only God knows the havoc it would have constituted.
â€œSo, sometimes, we have to be high-handed, strict, and do the job the way it should be done. So, I said the job we do has to do with the protection of the people of this great nation. In order to do that, we have to deploy the measures that are necessary.â€
Ali explained that the Service has so far lost five of its officers in an attempt to stop smuggling. â€œIn our mandate to stop smuggling, we have lost lives of officers. As at the count this year alone, over five officers have gone down fighting smugglers.â€
While calling on Nigerians to read the book, the Customs boss noted that it was not only important and educative to â€ŽCustoms officers but to all Nigerians who do not really know the crimes involved in smuggling.
He noted that the book presentation was apt for Customs because it tends to tackle smuggling, which is one of his administrationâ€™s targets.
Similarly, a Professor of Law, Prof. Alswell Oseni Mauzan, while reviewing the book, noted that with proper automated system, whereby before any good leaves for Nigeria, customs officers will have its details; smuggling will be made difficult.
Writer of the book, Musa Omale, while speaking to journalists on the reason for the book said it was high time Nigerians knew about smuggling and its effects and how to avoid it and warned against it.
The book, â€˜Appraisal of the Crime of Smuggling in Nigeriaâ€™ is 378 pages and divided into nine chapters with each of the chapters addressing topical issues and the forward is written by the CGC.