Customs considers reopening Borno border posts to fight arms smuggling

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, said the organisation would consider reopening the customs posts at Gamboru Ngala and Banki border posts in Borno State to take on the challenge of arms smuggling into the country and curtail insurgency.

Mr. Ali said this during his visit to defence formations, including the Defence Intelligence Agency and Nigerian Air Force and Nigeria Police on Thursday in Abuja.

The comptroller-general said for customs to achieve its target, it needed the support of the military, police and intelligence agencies.

Ali is a retired colonel. He said smuggling of small arms and ammunition had to be prevented.

The purpose of his visit was to strengthen synergy between the police, intelligence agencies, service chiefs and the customs, to secure the country and the economy.

Mr. Ali said customs would consider reopening the border posts because of  the request by the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai.

“Why not, we will consider the post.

“If the post will provide the enabling environment for people to operate, we will consider that.

“Small arms importation or smuggling is endemic; it is a problem to all of us and the military. We are doing everything to make sure we stop this thing.

“Our biggest problem is insurgence and this thing has gone beyond small arms; now people import big arms, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers through the ports and water side.

“So we have responsibility to stop these people from coming in; if we can reduce the number of arms that gets into the country, we can assure Nigerians that there will be safety by the security,” Ali said.

The customs boss called for the cooperation of the service chiefs to curb the influx of small fire arms and explosives across the over 4,000-kilometre borders of the country.

Mr. Ali requested for training of customs officers on aircraft surveillance piloting, security intelligence, maritime logistics and army cooperation from the service.

The Chief of Army Staff, Leutenant General Tukur Buratai, had earlier requested for the reopening of the border posts at Gamboru Ngala and Banki to clear the activities of insurgents.

Buratai urged Mr. Ali to return Customs post to other places that had been cleared of insurgents in ‎Borno, to boost soldiers’ morale and support the fight.

“Let me request for the return of our Customs border posts around some of these areas, which have been captured from insurgents

“Though economic activities have not fully returned to those areas, our troops are there and we will appreciate it if the customs returns to those areas so that you will also support our fight against insurgency.

“The fight against insurgency is not strictly for the Nigerian military alone; it is for all Nigerians.

On his part, the Chief of Air Staff, Sadiq Abubakar‎, urged Customs to enlist its men into the international air training school in Enugu.

Mr. Abubakar, an air marshal, said its officers were being trained in Portugal to perfect the building of local operational Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (‎drone) and make them available for customs and other paramilitaries.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok-Ete Ibas, commended Custom’s anti-corruption posture, saying, “I share in your vision of sanitising the system to enhance the nation’s economic survival.”

Mr. Ibas, a vice admiral, said that the Navy would assist in training customs’ marine command officers to curb imports diversion in the over 3,000 creeks and estuaries in the nation.

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