By News desk
The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), retired Col. Hameed Ali, has disclosed that the closure of Nigeria’s borders by Federal Government was embarked upon so as to strengthen the nation’s security and protect its economic interests.
Ali made this disclosure on Thursday at Seme during a meeting with border stakeholders, comprising freight forwarders and security agencies
The custom boss, who said that the closure was not intended to hurt anyone but to protect the nation’s interests, added that the development became necessary to make the country ,economy secure for the well being of Nigerians.
“Our interest is to make sure that our country is secure, the well-being of our people is ensured and our economy is secure. The step we have taken is in the interest of Nigeria, the step is not to hurt anybody but to protect our own interests as a nation,” he said.
The NCS boss said that lots of things had gone wrong regarding compliance with transit of goods, adding that the border closure was to ensure that things were streamlined so that all stakeholders could be back to doing the right things.
“The idea is to ensure that the protocol that is involved in transit of goods and trade facilitation is adhered to so that we will all live and complement each other. The operation is undertaken to ensure that we get things back in perspective; we know the right thing, it is well written, we are all aware of it, we used to practise it, so we must go back to that,” the custom boss explained.
He said that the freight forwarders were critical stakeholders at the borders and urged them to ensure compliance with the rules regarding transit of goods.
“We cannot do business without you but compliance is lacking between you and our officers. Most of the things we do, we don’t comply with rules and that’s why we end up with weapons, Tramadol that killed our children.
“We end up with ammunition that bandits use to kill our people; we don’t manufacture ammunition in this country, if we do it is only from one source and that source is well protected and documented. But today, we have seen many of this ammunition in Nigeria, where are they coming from.
“They have compromised with some of us and some of you and I say to our officers; that weapons, that bullets you facilitate in transiting into Nigeria, you don’t know who will take it.The bandits, the armed robbers had no choice, your mother, my children, your sisters might be shot by that weapon,” the customs boss said.
He called for support and cooperation of the stakeholders to ensure the nation is protected.
“We need your support, we need your cooperation and understanding, our national interest is over and above any issue,” he said.
It was gathered that the joint-border security exercise, code-named ‘Ex-Swift Response’, which was ordered by the Federal Government, commenced on August to secure Nigeria’s land and maritime borders.
Ali was accompanied to the meeting by Nigeria’s Ambassador to Benin Republic, Kayode Oguntuase, Comptroller General Immigration, Mohammed Babandede and Brig. Gen. E.A Ndagi, Coordinator of Joint Border Security Exercise, among others.