Customs plans aerial surveillance to check cross-border smuggling

The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) says it plans to carry out aerial surveillance to check smuggling across the country’s 4,700-kilometre land border.

The Comptroller-General of the service, retired Col. Hamid Ali, said this in an interview with the on Thursday in Abuja.

According to him, the aerial surveillance will enable the service to identify smuggling activities on the nation’s borderline

“We have done everything to make sure we fortify our borders but let’s remember we have 4,700km borderline and we cannot place individuals at every point.

“So we are trying to develop a process whereby we have an area surveillance and that will help us so that on the spot we can pinpoint where smuggling or movement is happening and we can now deploy our people quickly to forestall that.’’

Ali explained that since the responsibilities of soldiers do not include manning the nation’s borders, the customs also serve as gate-keepers at the borders.

He gave assurance that the Federal Government will make the standard of the service world-class to facilitate efficient trade between Nigeria and its partners.

“What people tend to forget is that customs is not only created to collect revenue it is supposed to create trade facilitations and to be part of the security arrangement of the country.

“So, trade facilitation is one of our biggest and most important role.

“We have a platform that every other agency that has anything to do with investment in Nigeria, export-import, is on that platform

“And therefore we have what we call `one-stop shop’. So you put a document in one place to be shared by everybody.

“In terms of security, since we are the gate-keepers, the soldiers are not allowed to be at the boundary.

“We are the first people you meet at the boundary, our job is to make sure that Nigerians (are) safe.’’

Ali said that the service was implementing a “3R’’ strategic vision of Reform, Re-structure and Raise-Revenue that would place the customs in a good standing.

He added that the country is faced with unprecedented challenges as regards unlocking the nation’s economic potential “as a series of shocks have led to what some experts refer to as the `perfect storm’’.

Ali said that processes and procedures in the service were predicated on values of Information and Communication Technology.