Mr Udo-Aka Emmanuel, Assistant Controller General, Nigerian Customs Service, Zone B, has solicited the support of traditional and religious leaders in sensitising those engaged in smuggling to repent.
Emmanuel made the appeal in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Kaduna.
He stressed that it was important to sensitise those involved in smuggling including communities living at the borders to understand that smuggling is not a legitimate business anywhere in the world.
“Smuggling still strives around the zone no matter the dogged fight put up by customs, because the natives do not understand the implication of smuggling. They just believe they are doing business.
“We really have to take time out to carry out advocacy to let these people know and understand that smuggling is illegal.
“The locals need to be informed that certain goods have been banned from being imported into the country, like rice, which most times is expired before been smuggled into Nigeria.
“There is need for the people to realize that expired rice is not healthy for consumption and smuggling it deprives local farmers the opportunity to gain maximally from their sweat.
“Smugglers also use the process to bring in contraband goods like ammunition and drugs,’’ he said.
The ACG stressed that it was imperative to involve the traditional and religious institutions in the advocacy to “let the locals know of the dangers inherent in smuggling as well as the health and economic implications on the nation.”
Emmanuel explained that it would make a lot of impact if religious leaders also preach against smuggling and highlight its negative implication on local economy and society.
He also said that the zone plans to work closely with the police and seek more support to track down smugglers.
“We are also going to meet with commissioners of police in the states to discuss with them and solicit for support,” he said.
Emmanuel stressed that the command had taken measures to drastically reduce smuggling activities “in the next few months.”
“We are also undertaking advocacy visits to authorized marketers, importers and agents. We will listen to their challenges and advise them on how to address them.”
The ACG called for upgrade of customs boarder stations to encourage effective policing of the borders, enhance productivity and efficiency of personnel.