Illicit trade: Customs boss dares smugglers on waterways
.Commissions 2 gunboats for patrol surveillance
By Udeme Clement
The Comptroller-General of Customs, CGC Hameed Ali has said that a tough time awaits smugglers on the waterways, as the Service will leave no stone unturned in arresting and prosecuting illicit traders operating on the country’s waterfront.
The Customs boss said this while commissioning two sea-going vessels, ‘Group of Nine and Customs Pride’ at the Naval dockyard, Lagos, yesterday.
CGC Ali asserted, “Whenever smugglers face stiff enforcement by Customs anti-smuggling operatives on land, they often move to the waterfront to continue with illicit trade.
“These two sea-going vessels, which are equipped with necessary firepower and other requirements for long time waterfront patrol, will serve as work tools for Customs officers to tackle illegal trade on the country’s territorial waters”.
He went on, “Before now, the Service was weak on waterways operation arising from lack of sea-going vessels to effectively checkmate smugglers on the high sea. That led to the death of nine Customs Marine officers who confronted deadly petrol smugglers on the sea in 2014.
“So, with these vessels, I hope smugglers will no longer take advantage of Customs vulnerability on water to bring in contraband. With these work tools, marine operatives can now sail to intercept prohibited items straight on the high sea”.
CGC Ali pointed out, “The commissioning of these vessels is in line with the on-going repositioning of the Service to effectively deliver its mandate to the nation.
“The timing of this commissioning is strategic, as it will boost the on-going joint security ‘Ex-Swift Response’ on waterways. Henceforth, it will remain a symbol of Customs strength on the sea. With the creation of more Customs formations, the Service now has four marine Commands, namely Western marine, Easter Maritime, North western marine and North Eastern marine.
“It is therefore our resolve to ensure that smugglers find no space to operate either on land, air or sea.
“It is in honour of this group of nine gallant officers who died in the Service of their fatherland that one of the sea-going vessels is named ‘Group of Nine’ while the other represents the ‘Customs Pride’ on the sea.”