The National Association of Ogun State Students (NAOSS) has called on Governor Dapo Abiodun, multi-national companies and Federal lawmakers representing border communities in the state to come to the rescue of the State Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) by donating operational vehicles to them to aid the effectiveness and efficiency of customs in fighting smugglers.
The student body in a statement, signed by the National President, Comrade Gbemileke Ogunronmbi, in Abuja, on Sunday said, the call was necessitated by the deplorable condition the operational vehicles of the customs are and the difficult terrain the men of the Ogun NCS are operating.
According to him, the need for the State government, companies and Federal lawmakers in State to support the customs in its efforts to rid the State of smugglers became imperative following the five-day on the spot assessment tour of border communities of Ipokia, Idi-Iroko, Ijoun, Imeko, Ilara and Ijofin, among others.
NAOSS attributed the persistent crisis between men of the Ogun Customs and residents of border communities in the State to the hostility and lack of trust for customs by the people living in border communities.
The student body also lamented what it called negligence of border communities, lack of social amenities and abject poverty in the border communities, adding that government at all levels had totally abandoned the people living in border areas.
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While calling on the Governor Abiodun to extend the donation of the 100 patrol vans and 200 motorcycles to the Ogun Command of the NCS, Ogunronmbi said, “Customs also needs to benefit from the kind gesture of the Governor in the area of provision of patrol vehicles and other equipment that will aid their job.”
Ogunronmbi said, the student body met with the Comptroller of the NCS, Ogun Command 1, Michael Agbara at the end of the tour and he complained bitterly about the bad working conditions his men are subjected to.
His words, “From all what we gathered in the course of the on-the-spot assessment tour, men of the Ogun State Command of the NCS are grossly incapacitated. They lack the required equipment to man the borders, their operational vehicles are in very bad conditions and all these have contributed to their inefficiency and inability to fight smugglers.
“During our tour of the border areas one of the three Hilux vans we took to the creek developed fault and broke down more than two times with bags of smuggled rice and motorcycle that we seized right there in the middle of the forest. At some point, the atmosphere was so tensed that we saw the villagers gathering and preparing to attack us but they couldn’t when they saw the number customs men that came with us.
“This incident is just one out many experiences that the customs go through on daily basis in the course of discharging their duties. Many of them, in process have been attacked, maimed and even killed.
“In other places we went to, we discovered that the youths gathered in what seemed to be an attempt to attack us, but because we went with three operational vans and a good number of operatives, they dared not attack us.
“When we know they (smugglers) are always scared of the number of vans and operatives, why can’t you (customs) deploy substantial number of vans and operatives wherever you are going for arrest and seizures?
“But when you have few men and only one operational van against a large number of youths, definitely there will be attacks and the process, the customs will want to save their lives and the seized goods but shooting firearms and innocent lives will be lost.
“I was told that you (Comptroller) have made frantic efforts at the headquarters in Abuja to get more operational vehicles but your efforts have not yielded the desired results.
“I think it is high time private companies, multi-nationals, our Federal lawmakers, especially those representing border communities and the state government rose to the occasion and support the Nigeria Customs Service, Ogun State Command with operational vehicles to make their job easier.”