Customs Service commissions two security vessels to fight smuggling activities

One of the newly-commissioned patrol vessels by the Nigeria Customs Service 

The Nigeria Customs Service(NCS) finally commissioned two sea-going security patrol vessels to tackle smuggling activities on the nation’s waterways.

The patrol vessels were procured since the last administration, with Alhaji Dikko Inde Abdullahi as the Customs Comptroller General, but they were never deployed for operations.

Commissioning the two vessels;  the “Group of Nine” and “Customs Pride” on Thursday in Lagos, the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd), said that the vital role of the customs service in the pursuit of the nation’s quest for non-oil revenue requires it to boost its operations.

He said: “Experience has shown that whenever smugglers face stiff resistance by the NCS anti-smuggling operatives on the land, they turn to the waterways to carry out their illegal trade.

“Unfortunately, before now, the service had been weak on water arising from the lack of sea-going vessels to effectively checkmate smugglers on the high sea, which led to the death of nine Customs marine officers in 2014.

“It is in honour of this Group of Nine gallant officers who died in the service of their fatherland that one of the vessels got its name, the “Group of Nine.’’

Ali said that the timing of the commissioning was strategic as it would boost the ongoing joint security Ex-Swift Response on water.

He disclosed that the NCS, as a result of its recent unbundling, now had four Marine commands, namely, Western, Eastern, North and North-Eastern Marine commands.

The Zonal Coordinator and Assistant Controller General of Customs in charge of Zone ‘A’ Headquarters in Lagos, Mrs. Kaycee Ekekezie, said that the vessels would be a major instrument that would aid the NCS’ fight against smuggling.

According to her, with the vessels, the NCS would be getting big catches and all decision-making will now be tripled.

“All the proliferation of dangerous drugs and other vices will be a thing of the past,’’ she said.

Mr. Mansur Ahmed, the President, Manufactures Association of Nigeria (MAN), said that smugglers were the worst enemy of manufacturers, stressing that “the manufacturers would now be face-to-face with their own enemies.’’

He said the commissioning of the vessels as a welcome development, as they would be of great assistance to the nation, particularly with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement AfCFTA).

Maj. Gen. Mohammed Monguno, National Security Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, said that the president was determined to give support in dealing with problems associated with the nation’s borders.

According to him, the twin challenges of insecurity and smuggling are a great concern for the present administration.

He added that: “Government will not allow itself to be blackmailed or compromised by an individual nor entity as its main concern is the protection of the citizenry protection and national economic growth.

“This is, therefore, a unique accomplishment as it will help in stemming criminal activities and in the years to come, more equipment will be acquired.’’