By Uche Ogbonnaya
The attention of Nigeria Customs Service Ogun I Area Command has been drawn to malicious allegations leveled against it during a purported press conference jointly addressed by one Mr. Damilola Simeon Kehinde said to be the Chairman of NANS JCC and one Mr. Ogunrombi Gbemileke said to be National President of NAOSS, and one other and published on Sun online news of Thursday, 26th August, 2021.
The Command would not have bothered to respond to the lies but had to do so for three reasons, the most important of which is that the lies are not only misleading but are likely to create unnecessary tension in Ogun State and the Country.
The Command wishes to categorically debunk the allegation of Arms importation through Ogun State and hereby states that, there has never be a time when Arms and Ammunition are allowed to be Smuggled into the Country through Ogun state and it will not be allowed to be smuggled in whatever form. The Command had since fortified the numerous illegal routes through which contrabands are smuggled into the Country with aggressive patrols and had stepped up its anti-smuggling operations in the State to checkmate the nefarious activities of these enemies of the State.
Other allegation of Smuggling activities taking place during the daytime is only in the imagination of the fabricator of that story. The tightened security architecture in the state today by Customs and other Security Agencies will not permit Smuggling of Contrabands and other prohibited items at night let alone during the day.
It is on record that since the resumption of the present Area Controller (CC Peter Kolo), the record of our achievements in the Command in both areas of revenue generation and anti-smuggling activities are being given out to the Press (media) on monthly basis in order for the public to be informed of our activities.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Command recorded over One Thousand, five hundred seizures of various contrabands and prohibited items ranging from foreign parboiled rice, foreign used vehicles, used shoes and clothings, Tomato Paste, Sativa (Marijuana), and petroleum products made for export since the beginning of the year.
For instance seizures of Forty-six thousand, four hundred and ninety one (46,491) bags of foreign parboiled rice were made in the Command between the moths of January 2021 to August 2021. About 20 suspects are currently undergoing trial for various Smuggling offenses in the Federal High Court, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
In as much as the Command does not want to join issues with the so-called students, their sponsors and collaborators, we want to advise them to focus and concentrate on their studies and school activities so that they graduate in record time and be better citizens tomorrow instead of offering and allowing themselves to be used as tools for blackmail of an individual and Government Institution. The Service wishes to implore them to channel their energy towards educating their fellow members of various communities on dangers inherent in Smuggling activities.
“Where were the authors of this malicious publication when officers and men of the Customs Service were being daily attacked with AK47 Riffles, locally produced guns, pistols and other dangerous weapons with Charm by dare devil smugglers who are their brothers and sisters, cousins and uncles in the State?
In most of these attacks, officers were injured, killed and Government properties destroyed (Vehicles and buildings set ablaze). What did they do and what did they say? These are the same elements and groups that carried placards and demonstrated to Government House and State House of Assembly last year December, 2020 alleging incessant killings of their Citizens by Customs, what hypocrisy!”,Oloyede, Customs PRO, Ogun 1 command intoned.
Let the general public know that these allegations are baseless, unfounded, mischievous, dangerously misleading and aimed at causing distraction to our operations and security architecture in Ogun State and the Country, and thus should be disregarded. We are focused in our anti-smuggling duties and remain resolute to continue with our onslaught on these enemies of the state.