Concerns Over Renewed Attacks On Customs Operatives

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

In the last one week, two customs officers were killed and another seriously injured on the verge of securing the nation’s borders. YUSUF BABALOLA writes on how to nip the renewed attacks in the bud.
In a bid to ensure security of the nation’s large and porous land borders, gunmen suspected to be smugglers have been unleashing attacks on officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) killing and maiming them in the most brutal manners
The officers on national and legitimate assignment are gunned down in their prime by marauding smugglers. Firstly, it was in Kebbi state where two officers, Inspector of Customs Alhaji Kabiru Shehu and Customs Assistant Abdullahi Muhammad, of Kebbi Area Command of the Service, met their untimely death while on patrol operations along Bunza-Dakingari-Koko Roads in Kebbi State.
In same week another patrol van was attacked in Katsina state, though, no death was recorded but a Customs officer was matcheted and severely wounded.
These recent attacks though, the Customs hierarchy has said won’t deterred them from carrying out their legitimate and constitutional duty of securing the border against smugglers bringing in dangerous and life threatening contrabands into the country.
In the last one year, about seven officers were killed while several sustained various degree of injury in line of securing the nation’s borders against smuggling of contrabands.
For instance, in February 2022, ASCll Mohammed Maradun, an officer with Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone B, Kaduna, was shot and killed by bandits.
Also, in March,2022 an Inspector of Customs, A. Onwegbuzie, was killed by suspected smugglers in Ogun State while his body was dumped in a deep pit. ASCI Saheed Aweda, was also killed in October, 2022 in Kwara state in course of carrying out his lawful duty.
However, the customs hierarchy commiserated with the families of the deceased, saying penetrators of attacks on their officers would be apprehended and made to face the music.
The acting Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, who reiterated that the service remained undeterred despite the attack said the service had resolved to secure all the nation’s land borders.
Adeniyi in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP, by the national public relations officer, Abdullahi Maiwada, emphasised perilous challenges that officers encounter daily while safeguarding the nation’s borders.
“It is with profound sorrow and heavy heart the acting Comptroller General of Customs Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR, on behalf of the entire officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), extends deepest condolences to families of Inspector of Customs Alhaji Kabiru Shehu and Customs Assistant Abdullahi Muhammad, NCS Kebbi Area Command, and the Government of Kebbi state, over the tragic loss of dedicated and valiant individuals in active service to their fatherland.
“The two officers met their untimely demise on August 24, 2023, while carrying out a stop-and-search operation along Bunza – Dakingari – Koko Road. The Acting CGC emphasised perilous challenges that officers encounter daily while safeguarding the nation’s borders. He assured that the NCS, under his leadership, stands firmly united with the families of deceased officers during this period of profound grief.”
“In this time of sorrow, we recognise the void their departure has left, both personally and within our Customs community. May the memory of their bravery, sacrifice, and service offer solace to their loved ones and motivate us all to uphold the principles they epitomized,” he remarked.
The acting CGC, however, applauded the swift response of the Kebbi Area Command in launching a comprehensive investigation to apprehend perpetrators and ensure justice for the fallen officers.
“The NCS pledges its complete support and collaboration in every step taken to bring those accountable for this reprehensible act to justice.” Furthermore, the acting CGC expressed gratitude for the solidarity and cooperation extended to the NCS by the Government and the good people of Kebbi state, led by the esteemed executive governor, Mohammed Nasir Idris. He highlighted the significance of community engagement in the collective pursuit of safety and security, encouraging all citizens to actively contribute to these shared endeavors.
“On behalf of the entire officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service, the acting CGC reiterated the resolve to uphold the rule of law and ensure the safety and security of the nation’s borders.
Moreover, stakeholders have called for onslaught against smugglers and unknown gunmen killing and maiming officers in the course of carrying out legitimate duty.
Speaking on the development, the former President National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr Eugene Nweke, condemned attack and killing of Customs officers.
According to him, attack on a Customs Officer is an attack on the country and must be nipped in the bud.
Nweke also identified high unemployment rate, government policies and porous border among others, saying there was need to interrogate factors promoting smuggling activities in the country.
“Killing an officer of the republic in the line of his national duties is an open confrontation and attack on the republic itself, as such leadership must arise to stem the rising incident squarely. It must be pointed out that International trade between nations thrives within the corridor of the international frontiers and the law empowers the Customs to man and protect the international frontiers for the reasons of revenue generation and prevention and suppressing of unwanted or prohibited trade and services into the country.”
“In discharging these national duties over the years, several factors does promotes smuggling activities in the republic, which overtime continues to expose security officers to dangers and wanton killing of innocent Officers. This trending factors needed to be purposefully x-rayed on one hand and the then develop the political and economic will to address the menace squarely.”
To put an end to smuggling and killing of officers, it is aptly necessary to address the following key factors amongst other factors promoting smuggling activities in the land, which includes “high unemployment and poverty rate; hash economic climate; government policies as well as unequalled playing field and lifestyle of political leaders and flamboyance.”
Others are, “Quest for materialism and high profiteering tendencies; corruptions and security compromises; non adherence To international protocols, i.e trade liberalisation scheme, trade prohibition and porous border protection.”
“In tackling the above factors squarely the issues relating to killing of officers will be addressing reasonably, as researches has shown that no nation can totally eradicate smuggling activities,” Nweke stated.
Also, an anti-smuggling advocacy group, Alliance Against Economic Saboteurs, in a press statement issued in Lagos and signed by the National Coordinator, Chief Gabriel Okenwa, stated that the killing of patriotic officers who were on their statutory duty, was an unacceptable development and should be condemned by every Nigerian.
“The officers were patriotic, committed and dedicated Nigerians, who were on their statutory duties in protecting the nation’s economy against the enemies, saboteurs and those that never meant well for the people. The gruesome murder should be condemned by all Nigerians”, Okenwa said.
He called on the government to provide more sophisticated equipment for the service to enable them engage effectively with the daredevil smugglers who have contributed to the country’s economic downturn and the present precarious security situation.
The coordinator further stated that the government leaders, politicians and traditional rulers of border communities should educate their people on the evil of smuggling and that the officers of Customs Service are not enemies, but patriotic servants, who are carrying out their statutory duties in accordance with the laws of the land. He urged the leaders to join hands with the Service in war against economic saboteurs and those engaged in smuggling of illicit drugs and dangerous weapons.
Okenwa called on government and the management of the Service to pay adequate compensation to the families of the fallen heroes and to ensure that the widows and children they left behind are not abandoned.


About Author

Comments are closed.