The Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has said that it lacks adequate logistics and manpower to cover the large stretch of unapproved routes and difficult terrains, which characterize its jurisdiction, the South Western part of Nigeria.
It said this is why the application of technology will be very useful in customs operations in combating and suppressing smuggling in the Zone.
The Acting Controller of the FOU ‘A’, DC Hussein Kayode Ejibunu made this revelation recently through his representative, DC B.A Isiaku at a Seminar, with the theme: “The role of technology in trade facilitation, suppression of smuggling”, organised as part of its AGM, by the League of Maritime Editors and Publishers, (LOMEP) in ASCON, Topo, Badagry.
According to Ejibunu, “logistics and manpower to cover the large stretch of difficult terrains and unapproved routes in the South West have remained grossly inadequate, but Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ has been doing its best by making tremendous seizures despite the logistic challenges.
The FOU, Zone ‘A’ Boss, however pointed out that the introduction of technological equipment will go a long way, at covering those difficult terrains and as such suppress smuggling.
“The deployment of drones and circuit cable television (CCTV), along the border areas, will monitor the activities of smuggling and smugglers, without necessarily deploying field Operatives”
Ejibunu added that a central monitoring centre will identify spots where offending items are stockpiled, and with just one stop operations, the items would be evacuated under heavy deployment of officers, stating that this will avert regular confrontations between officers and smugglers.
The Controller also said that technologically equipped patrol vans and the use of body cameras by patrol officers, will reduce to the barest minimum, most allegations of extortion leveled against officers, while on patrol.
He explained that by the time CCTV, well equipped patrol vehicles with security gadgets and walkie talkies for officers are provided, as promised by the Customs Comptroller General, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd), there will be a great improvement in the level of smuggling.
DC Ejibunu disclosed further that, to demonstrate that the Customs appreciated the role of technology, it had created a department known as Modernization, Information and Technology, directly under the Comptroller General’s Office, charged with the responsibility of ensuring automation of the entire Administration and Operations of the Service.
“In the area of trade facilitation, a lot has been done, ranging from the introduction of Automated System for Customs Data, (ASYCUDA), ASYCUDA++, Nigerian Integrated Customs Information Centre (NICIS) I, NICIS II, and currently the E- customs and the Nigerian Trade Hub, created recently to bring all stakeholders in the business world, together to do business seamlessly.
He pointed out that all the technological deployment have significantly reduced the bottlenecks associated with clearing of goods at the ports, adding that the Nigerian Trade Hub also allows importers and their agents to import, prepare, and submit all necessary customs documents within the trade zone without interfering with customs officers.
In DC Ejibunu’s words: “With the launch of the e- customs in 2019, the Service and its partners are poised to further facilitate trade by installing scanners at the seaports, airports and border posts”
“The project is aimed at eliminating physical examination of containers, which is characterized with a lot of challenges hinged on time wasting, allegation of pilfering and corruption and lack of adequate equipment to position and offload containers” he added.