*Charged Journalist with informations to reduce smuggling to the barest minimum.
By Silas Onuoha
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has charged journalists and well meaning Nigerians for informations in her continuing efforts to reduce smuggling to the barest minimum for the good of the economy as no nation can completely eradicate the menace from her shores.
Speaking at the Capacity Building event for journalists on Customs Modernization and Operations organized by The Powerful Pen Media Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), held in Apapa, Lagos, last Thursday. Comptroller Abubakar Umar of Western Marine Command (WMC) represented by DC A.S. Adamu, informed that for about 60 years the Service has existed in Nigeria, it has been able to suppress and not eradicate the menace as smugglers continuously devise various ways to evade apprehension by deploying fresh ICT and other technological innovations.
Reducing smuggling to the barest minimum in line with her statutory mandate, the CAC said certain measures must be adopted at all times. These include the use of modern technology which places the Service ahead of all negative strategies smugglers use to drive their evil trade.
He went on.
“There should be an improvement in integrated capacity building coupled with robust public enlightenment such as the one the maritime journalists mount from time to time.
In addition, intelligence sharing among various agencies should be intensified even as Nigeria must up her game in revisiting and strengthening existing bilateral trade agreements with other nations on movement of goods within the subregion and beyond.
Also included is the need to ‘catch them young’ through designing and including psychology curriculum in schools to stress good civic education so that citizens are acquainted with the danger and harm smuggling inflicts on the economy and the nation at large.”
Going further Compt. Umar said, “importation of goods into Nigeria must be through approved routes only, emphasizing that
Smuggling retards economic growth by inhibiting the development of indigenous technology, creates unemployment as preference for foreign goods forces local industries that manufacture same consumables to close down and lay off staffs . Encourages armed robbery and violent crimes normally committed after consuming imported hard drugs. Thus, smuggling remains
a major threat to the nation’s security”.
The Controller Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos, Comptroller Hussien Ejibunu, represented by Deputy Comptroller Garko Ali, informed.
“Our job is to compliment the work of the enforcement officers at the ports and border posts, our unit is an interventionist outfit that acted as checks and balances in Customs operations. No month the unit would not record a minimum of 100 seizures from smugglers running into several millions of naira, the CAC said”.
The Powerful Pen Media Chapel and the Maritime Journalists’ Association of Nigeria (MAJAN) for organising the programme, which he said would help in factual reporting of events.
Also, the Assistant Director, Public Relation, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Edward Osagie, who led his PR team to the event, said the group was in the right trajectory. Adding that since this was happening in an election period, it was setting agenda for the incoming government.
Osagie urged the group to extend their training to other sectors of the industry for the better understanding of their operations and consequently, accurate reportage.
In his remarks, Alhaji Isa Kazeem, the Vice President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMLCA),said the Chapel and MAJAN were on the right track by commencing their training with the Customs, the custodian of the ports.
He then charged journalists to make good use of their knowledge on the operations of the Service in order to support and report it accurately.
In his address, the NUJ, Lagos State Chairman, Mr Adeleye Ajayi commended the Chapel and MAJAN for the initiative to update the journalists’ knowledge on Customs operations and hoped that they would maximize such an opportunity.
He thanked the Western Marine Command, Federal Operations Unit (FOU) for making out time to relate with journalists in such a training capacity and urged them not to relent in further assisting the knowledge seekers.
The Chairman, The Powerful Pen Media Chapel, Mrs. Udeme Clement, in her welcome address said the Chapel thought it wise to be educated by the Nigeria Customs Service for accurate reportage of its activities and challenges.
“The training became more expedient following the modernization that had been going on in the service that required the media getting updated in its operations and challenges likewise”.
Mrs Clement thanked the commands for heeding to the journalists’ clarion call and other stakeholder, who came around to show solidarity with the journalists and the Chapel.