The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) retired Colonel Hameed Ali said Thursday that the country’s borders would soon be fully protected.
Speaking at the weekly briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team, Ali said the organisation is already conducting an intensive patrol around the borders to realise the goal.
“We have agreed on the constitution of what we call the Joint Border Patrol Team. Today we have a conglomeration of the Army, Airforce and all other security agencies that have together under one roof to ensure the security of our borders, the team comprises both the military and para military, with the Customs as the leading agency because we are the gatekeepers in this operation.
“We have about four sectors from Cross River State up to Yobe. We are not covering between Borno and parts of Adamawa States because of the ongoing military operation there. Therefore, the military has asked us to keep off those areas because they are handling that and until the areas are secured, we will not be able to go there,” he said.
He said technology would also be deployed to further secure the borders, in line with current global best practices.
“Secondly, we are trying to increase our arsenal by increasing our capability to be able to fight smuggling and ensure we monitor our borders. The modernisation process that we are putting in place, otherwise called e-Custom, has an inbuilt system for border monitoring which will be linked to ICT systems and cloud information.
“We are working with the Airforce to make sure that we monitor our borders and ensure effective control. We intend to have more aircrafts as well as talking with the Army to train our officers to learn to paradrop, so that they will be able to intercept the actions of smugglers,” he said.
He said Nigeria is working closely with it neighbours to fortify the borders.
“We are making sure that we work closely with our neighbour as that is the best way of solving this problem. If we have a good understanding with our neighbouring countries and we work based on the ECOWAS protocol, all these things will stop.
“Between us and Nigeria Republic, we have almost a perfect system in place and if there is a problem, it is only minimal cases of smuggling; where we problem is on our borders with Benin Republic but we are working with them to see if we can create a synergy to be able to protect ourselves, and protect each other,” he said.
He said plans are ongoing for the full automation of the activities of the Nigeria Customs Service leading to the electronic processing of goods and taxes.
He said automation of all activities of the NCS would enhance revenue generation and prevent the import of illicit goods into Nigeria as well as monitor the country’s borders.
He said the Nigeria Customs Service was given a revenue target of N3.019 trillion for 2022.
“We were given a target of N3.019 trillion for the year 2022 and we have so far collected N2.143 trillion so, we are working towards making sure that we get to the target. The collection of telecommunication and carbonated drinks tax is part of the target given to us but up till now we have not started collecting that, which we will do. But we are working very assiduously to make sure that we block all leakages and by the end of December, we will report to Nigerians that we have met our over three trillion naira target,” he said.
On seizure of goods, he said the Nigeria Customs Service gives seized food items to displaced persons and the needy based on the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari. He said the food items were distributed in conjunction with the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration (NAFDAC).
“What we do with the seized goods such as rice, tomatoes and the rest, are given to the needy. In the past we either sell or destroy them. But with the coming of this administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, being a compassionate leader, has directed that we.
“So, all perishable goods seized by the Customs are now given to the needy. Primarily we were giving them to the displaced persons because before the advent of the flood and banditry the displaced persons were the most pronounced people in need but now the President has mandated the Nigeria Customs Service to ensure that all perishable items are given to these people in order to alleviate their suffering,” he said.