‘Nigerian Factor Responsible for Illegal Check Points’ – Seme Customs Boss
BY FUNMI ALUKO
Seme Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has absolved its officers and men of being part of the mindboggling illegal check points mounted along the Nigerian side of the Lagos-Abidjan Corridor, especially between Agbara, Badagry and Seme end of the trans-regional highway.
Fielding questions from journalists in his office about the unwieldy high presence of police check points amongst others along the identified location, the Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Dera Nnadi mni, explained that as the lead agency amongst others in Seme Border, his office has done all that is required to encourage every agency of government operating within and around the border to cut down on the menace without much success.
He however attributed the intractable situation to the ‘Nigerian factor’ that has so far promoted high traffic petty smuggling of all manner, which also became the incentive that has continued to attract security agencies and their personnel, akin to a sugar infested wood attracting ants.
Apparently reluctant to hit the nail on the head, he nonetheless explained that his officers have restricted themselves to the three approved check points, which include the ones at Gbaji Bridge and Agbara Bridge, while any other is purely patrol based, which merely respond to intelligence.
Our reporter had counted over 20 police checkpoints, six Immigration Service check points, with three Army, two Civil Defence, two NDLEA, one Road Safety, between Badagry roundabout and Seme. In some places, the police check points are between five and six within 100 meters.
While making attempts to offer some honest explanation, Nnadi pleaded passionately not to report the details of his explanations in order not to cast aspersions on the service’s sister agencies, adding that the collective decision to dismantle the unbecoming illegal check points is ongoing except that it is slow.
He further explained that his predecessor, now ACG Mohammed Jibo had put in place a robust arrangement that is acceptable for decent and responsible policing structure, which he has been implementing since taking over control of the area command.
He said, “It’s not even me doing it, my predecessor did so much, ACG Jibo did so much, in fact, much more than what I’m doing now. He already laid down the structure that is acceptable, which l have been implementing. But like I said, in Igbo language we say, ‘kori mara ko kago’ which simply means ‘there are certain things that people taste, and they don’t want to leave it.’
“The process is on, it is slow but it is on. In one of my recent minutes of meetings from the Joint Border Security Management Committee, comprising of all security agencies. I wrote, “Good day, JBSM, once again, thank you for your commitment to a secured Seme Krake Corridor. While we await the minutes of the last meeting, I wish to announce that Nigeria Customs Service has reduced its checkpoint as promised by me. In the same vein, I regret to inform you that as at this morning, some of the agencies have yet to implement decisions reached at the meeting. Below are the statistics of checkpoints between Seme and Gbaji…..
“Please don’t promote this information, all we want is understanding and the customs will continue to encourage the committee to do more to keep within the allowable arrangement. It is gradual process; agencies are complying and reducing their presence.
“Everybody is sincere about the collective desire to reduce the check points here. Sadly these check points are also a function of the level of discipline of our people engaged in smuggling, the traffic of petty smuggling is high.”