The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has said it cannot effectively secure the country’s borders due to its insufficient number of personnel.
Hameed Ali, the Comptroller-General of the NCS, said this at the presentation of the service’s 2021 budget before the House of Representatives committee on customs service on Thursday.
According to Ali, the porous and extensive border areas is responsible for the problem of smuggling and arms proliferation being experienced in the country.
The Customs CG stated that the border areas requiring security coverage but said the 15,000 officers in the service are not adequate enough to undertake such a task.
He lamented that the majority of residents of border communities would rather be loyal to smugglers because of the lack of government presence, particularly in terms of infrastructure and service.
“I feel their pain, in some cases, they have to cross the border to go to school and also fetch water because there is no government presence,” the CG said.
Ali stated that the war against smugglers should not be left to the NCS alone, adding that other security agencies should be involved in the fight against smuggling.
He noted that the three mobile scanners procured for the Customs by the Ministry of Finance would further enhance its surveillance and security at the country’s borders.
On recruitment into the NCS, the Customs CG said the service had not recruited in the past 17 years, noting that recruitment into the service was the prerogative of the president.
He said the NCS needs to recruit officers as there is a gap in terms of officers currently in the service.
“There will come a time that there will be no junior officers again in NCS; we need more officers and this is why we embarked on the recruitment of 3,200 officers for which we have so far spent N40 million,” he said.