The Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) has condemned the incessant attacks on operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
The group’s National President, Mr Frank Ogunojemite, stated their condemnation in a statement on Monday, in Lagos.
Ogunojemite’s reaction was coming on the heels of the recent statement by the NCS’s Public Relations Officer, Mr Joseph Attah, that some unscrupulous hoodlums, suspected to be smugglers, had resorted to unleashing mayhem on Customs officers on anti-smuggling operations.
Attah had said no fewer than three operatives of the NCS were killed in October, while an unspecified number of others sustained varying degrees of injuries.
Ogunojemite urged the Federal Government to put measures in place to forestall further attacks on customs’ operatives.
He said that there was need for government to fortify major entry points with modern security devices and also equip Customs operatives and other border security personnel with needed gadgets and quality firearms, to effectively confront smugglers and hoodlums at any time.
“APFFLON cannot agree less with the public relations officer of the Customs. We hereby condemn unequivocally the dastardly act as we urge the federal government to rise and take charge of the situation.
“We also read in the news that the missing body of another Customs officer was found floating on Ipaja River in Yewa South Local Government Area of Ogun State.
“Two others kidnapped by daredevil smugglers, operating in Ogun State, were both found dead in Fagbohun Village over the interception of smuggled rice from Benin Republic.
“We hereby vehemently condemn the mindless killings of Customs operatives; they are human beings who have families and relations too.
“The incessant attacks and gruesome murder of customs operatives, especially at border areas, calls for urgent government intervention and should no longer be handled with kid gloves,” he said.
He noted that while APFFLON was of the strong belief that government’s investment in technology was in the pipeline, “investment on border security should be given top priority.’”
“Enough of the massacre of customs operatives, they are human beings; the government should take proactive measures to protect them.
“If this continues, it means in no distant time, no officer will take up such assignments any longer, and that portends serious danger to the country.
“Government should invest in the latest technology to secure our borders. Training and retraining of Customs operatives and formation of a Joint Task Force to protect all the agencies is very germane at this critical time.
“We urge the federal government to put proper insurance schemes in place to cover customs’ operatives and their families. Drones and helicopters should also be deployed for effective border policing.
“And most importantly, engagement of neighbouring countries in intelligence gathering and access to very sensitive information is necessary,” the APFFLON president said.
He said that applying every effective measure to combat security threats would do the country pretty good while customs should improve their public relations and engage their stakeholders in all sectors.