The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has urged Nigerians to see smuggling as a crime and support it to succeed in the war against smugglers.
Mr Joseph Attah, Public Relations Officer of the Service, made this appeal while addressing the Newsmen on Monday in Abuja.
He said that the service anti-smuggling strategy was yielding positive dividends, adding that in the past three months, the service had seized 136,506 bags of rice.
“All Nigerians should see smuggling as a crime so that they will support the service to succeed in our ongoing war against smugglers. Seeing smuggling as a crime means that you will be willing to give creditable information that will help us succeed,” Mr Attah said.
“The villagers that live around border line should be willing to support customs officers whenever they make seizures and are encountering some difficulties, rather than supporting the smugglers against customs. In Nigeria when a thief is arrested or an armed robber is arrested, you hardly get to see people going to beg for them,” he added.
“But today when a smuggler is arrested you see Nigerians, including some respected ones in our society, coming to beg for such persons to be released because they don’t see smuggling as a crime; they see it as a trade,’’ the PR Officer stated.
He said that some Nigerians often times accused the NCS of not doing enough in its service delivery.
Mr Attah said it was wrong for people to think that a smuggler could only be successful when supported in active connivance by customs officers.
According to him, smugglers now take advantage of the porous borders, adding that oftentimes they are supported by villagers at the border line and unpatriotic well to do individuals in carrying out their smuggling activities.
” NCS cannot 100 per cent vouch for its officers like any other human organisation; it is totally wrong to suggest that every criminal activity must be with the connivance of
an operative,” he added.
Attah said that the service would remain focused on its statutory function of enforcing government polices rather than being distracted by the blame games.
” In our continuous efforts to suppress smuggling, information, suggestions that can help the service to perform better are welcome from well meaning individuals or organisation,” he concluded.