Emerging border crimes threatening customs operations- Ali
The Comptroller-General of Customs, retired Col. Hameed Ali, says emerging border crimes were threatening Customs operations.
Ali said this iat a news briefing on Thursday in Abuja, to mark the end of a three day Global Conference on Fragile Borders, organised by the World Customs Organisation(WCO).
The conference has the theme, ‘Enabling Customs in Fragile and Conflict Affected Situations’.
He said although the primary function of Customs was to generate revenue and facilitate trade, heightened insecurity around the borders had made it imperative to be adequately equipped to work effectively.
The customs boss, who is the Vice Chairman of the West and Central Africa (WCA) region of WCO, while thanking WCO for giving Nigeria the opportunity to host the conference, said “we are honoured.”
He said the dangerous trends around the borders were increasing by the day, saying “We are inundated by this fragile border issue in the gulf of Guinea and other neighbouring countries.
“Unfortunately Customs is hard hit because of the quest to rid our borders of smugglers and other border criminals.
He further said “smugglers for instance have become very deadly and some of our galant odficers have lost their lives in the process of trying to stop their nefarious activities.
“We have also lost properties over time and this is because these smugglers use dangerous weapons to try to deter our officers from carrying out their responsibilities.
“So, it will be foolhardy to confront such dangerous group of people without being adequately equipped.”
The customs boss said the development had become dire in some border areas adding that Customs was forced to suspend operations in those places they had been declared “fragile.
“This is a critical matter that requires needed attention and this is because if there is no security there will be no movement of goods and services and that will affect revenue generation.
“There is a need therefore for total overhaul of the service in some countries because Customs officers do not carry arms in those countries.
“That ought to change now that there is so much insecurity around us.
“One of the ways we are working to ensure that Customs stays ahead of these criminals is the e-Customs platform.’
Dr Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary-General, WCO, said there was a need for relevant stakeholders to collaborate for better performance.
Mikuriya said WCO a 184-member worldwide organisation in which Nigeria played an active role, was concerned about the spate of insecurity.
He said time had come for Customs to go beyond mere revenue generation to paying attention to security matters, adding that “without security at the borders we cannot effectively collect revenue.”
He also said there was a need for data sharing, research and development, intelligence gathering and deployment of technology in the whole exercise.
The secretary-general said WCO was working out an action plan to help tackle the issue of insecurity, particularly as it affects Customs.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that part of the activities of the WCO at the conference, was a scheduled viisit to President Muhammadu Buhari.
NAN reports that the WCO was established in 1952 as the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC).
It is an independent intergovernmental body whose mission is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations.
Today, the WCO represents 182 Customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98% of world trade.
As the global centre of Customs expertise, the WCO is the only international organisation with competence in Customs matters and can rightly call itself the voice of the international Customs community.
Source – NAN