The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has urged the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Nigeria Customs Service to deploy drones and other sophisticated gadgets in its fight against smuggling activities at the land borders.
The association in a released document at the weekend condemned the closure of all land borders by the federal government in an anti smuggling operation to curtail smuggling of rice, food stuff, arms and other goods from neighboring ports.
In the document sent to DAILY TREND NEWS by National Publicity Secretary of ANLCA, Mr. Joe Sanni, the association lamented that the closure has brought untold hardship on its members operating in those Border commands, and the contiguous communities.
It has advised the Nigeria Customs Service to acquire drones and other sophisticated gadgets to help her in monitoring activities at the border posts.
Recall that in a joint security exercise involving the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Immigration Service, the Armed Forces and Nigerian Police code-named “Ex- Swift Response”, coordinated by the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) the federal government had shut down the nation’s borders so as to checkmate the smuggling into Nigeria of illegal arms and ammunition, unwholesome drugs, food stuffs and the cross-border movement of undocumented, illegal persons.
The association argued that “As much as the exercise is desirable, in order to check the activities of smugglers and its damaging effects on Nigeria’s economy and well-being of the population, there is an urgent need to review the strategy and tactics of physically shutting our borders, even though, this time around it was a partial shutting down, which is between 6am and 6pm”
“The fact that smuggling of unwholesome drugs into Nigeria has continuously endangered the lives of our young populace, the infiltration of small arms and ammunition has aided terrorism, escalated communal clashes, emboldened perpetrators of banditry, armed robbery, kidnappings and acts of crime and criminalities”
“In order for the nation’s security to tackle smuggling, security challenges, secure our borders effectively to guarantee socio-economic sustainable growth, there is an urgent need to review our strategies and tactics, in the light of modern day technologies, deployed to check acts of crime and criminalities across the length and breadth of Nigeria”
“In effectively designing processes that will ultimately engender strategies to curb smuggling activities, there is also the need for the gathering of data of activities across our borders, in order to drastically change the narratives”
“With daily data collection, collated and analyzed over a period of time and seasons, systems will be evolved to incrementally reduce smuggling to its barest minimum. As that is ongoing, the need to install CCTV cameras at least, at our approved Borders, Posts and Stations, to monitor the movements of goods and persons across these Borders, is urgently desirable”
“These robust, tropical cameras will be powered 24/7 by solar, and monitored via a control room manned by shifting, well trained officers, who are expected to raise alarm on noticing anything funny”
“With the study, surveying of the estimated one thousand two hundred illegal/unmanned routes, it will be expedient to introduce the use of drones to gather movements of persons and, possibly goods information, through these detected illegal routes”
The association also called for regular sensitization and interactions between the Nigeria Customs and the community leaders in border towns engaging in smuggling activities.
The association says that Customs should partner with them in the campaign against smuggling and smugglers, even though this might be a bit dicey, because communities’ leaders are usually complicit in the scheme.
“This kind of engagement should also be used to send a subtle threat to the community leaders that any smuggler caught, and reveals the duration and base of their activities, traced to the communities, and leaders, heads of such communities will be held as accomplices”
“So, the onus lies on all Communities leaders to help in policing and checking of smuggling activities in and around their communities”
“At the same time, the office of ONSA may consider a corps of informants, planted in all manned and unmanned routes’ communities to give smuggling activities-related or threats-to-security information on a regular basis, while such documented/appointed informants operating undercover, and are also monitored daily through their devices or some other form of tracking devices, will be made accountable for their actions or inactions”