Customs Coordinator Alerts on Deployment of Drones
As Ejibunu Hints of Easing Out Military in Anti-smuggling Operations
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
There are indications that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is on the path of dramatic changes in its anti-smuggling operations, as it management hints of possible discontinuation of the involvement of the military, in addition to the planned deployment of drones.
South West Zonal Coordinator of Customs, Modupe Aremu at the end of her weeklong tour of the zonal command in Seme, said management is working out arrangement to deploy drones at the land border stations to combat smuggling and promote efficiency through automation.
Aremu, an Assistant Comptroller General of Customs explained that the deployment of drones will raise the bar in reducing human contacts, with all its attendant challenges. She expressed satisfaction with the performance of commands and stations in the zone, according to reports of the tour monitored by our reporter in Lagos.
Addressing the leadership, officers and men of Seme Area Command, ACG Aremu was quoted as saying, “Very soon when the E-Customs come onboard, we are going to have electronic signatures, drones patrolling the borders. We are trying to minimize person to person contact so the interactions will be reduced and hopefully will make our work faster and more efficient”.
In a related development, the new acting Controller, Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A, Hussein Kehinde Ejibunu hinted the possibility of management discontinuing with the engagement of the military in customs anti-smuggling activities.
Ejibunu made the disclosure during a press briefing yesterday at Ikeja, while reportedly fielding questions from reporters. He was quoted as saying he would soon meet with the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, and the Commissioners of Police, Lagos and Ogun States, to address the issue.
The FOU Zone ‘A’ new sheriff announced the arrest of five suspected smugglers during a series of sting operations carried out in some criminal hideouts in Lagos and Ogun States, respectively, under his watch.
According to reports, Ejibunu also said that over N116 million worth of contraband items allegedly being smuggled into Nigeria through unapproved routes in Ogun State were also seized during the ten days sting operation.
He listed items seized during the operation to include rice, vegetable oil, uses tyres, second hand clothing, frozen poultry products among others.
Bemoaning the killings of officers and men, Ejibunu, a Deputy Comptroller of Customs vowed to bring to an end such unwarranted incidents by invoking relevant sections of the firearms act; noting that the NCS does not make laws but merely implement economic policies.
“Barely 24 hours when I assumed duty as the controller of FOU Zone A, I was greeted by the news of the killing of an officer at Owode-Idiroko by suspected smugglers. I have met with traditional rules in the area over the killing. As if that was not enough, two of my men were also matcheted by smugglers. The good thing is that they are responding to treatment in the hospital.
“For the purpose of clarification, NCS is not responsible for banning certain items from coming into the country neither are it responsible to make laws. Our job is simply to implement government’s fiscal policies and laws.
“We draw our power from customs and Excise Management Act CAO C45 LFN 2004 as amended.”