As early 8:30 am on Friday 21st, January 2022, retired Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali, the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and some members of his management staff were in Port Harcourt, the capital city of Rivers State Nigeria, to commission eighteen (18) Made-in-Nigeria patrol boats and to physically ascertain the functionality of the scanning machine in Onne Port.
According to the Comptroller General, the 18 creeks patrol boats, consisting of nine (9) logistic support boats and nine (9) gunboats whose parts are armored are meant to send clear signals to the criminals that the smuggling game is up.
He said that the procurement of the boats was made in line with the Executive Order on Local Content of 2017 and that the Nigeria Customs Service deliberately decided to tap into the ingenuity of a Nigerian company — SEWA — to design, construct and build the patrol boats.
IWA reports that Ali said that unlike before they now have boats with flat bottoms that can access the creeks even when the water has receded and that the acquisition of the boats is meant to boost the NCS’s marine arsenal at a time when more smugglers are running away from the heat on land to water.
“It essentially marks the beginning of a renewed offensive against those who chose creeks and waterways as a safe haven for their illegal trade,’’ he said urging marine operatives of the NCS in both the Eastern and Western Marine Commands in whose area Commands the boats are deployed to judiciously use them in the interest of the country.
He then called on well-meaning individuals and organizations to give the Service credible information that will enable them to intercept and seize smuggled items, stating that the best of working tools in the hands of Customs Officers cannot yield the maximum output unless they get the cooperation of all and sundry.
Addressing the newsmen after inspecting the scanning machine in Onne Port, the Comptroller-General explained that the scanning machine was designed to work for 24 hours, thereby significantly improving the facilitation of trade in the Nigerian ports.
Ali left a parting note for the media: “I thank the media for their continuous support and I urge them not to relent on the valuable roles they are playing in informing, educating and entertaining the public about the effects of smuggling on the nation’s economy.”