The Controller of Ogun 1 Area Command, of the Nigeria Customs Service, Dera Nnadi, on Tuesday, said most people now perceive the Ogun and Yewa area of the state as a ‘war zone’ known for smuggling.
The Customs boss urged the traditional rulers in the state to help in putting an end to the smuggling and killing of customs officers, adding that the narrative must be changed.
Nnadi said this when he visited Obas in Yewa, led by their Paramount Ruler, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle; the Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo and the Agura of Gbagura land Oba Sabur Bakre, at their palaces
The Customs boss urged the monarchs to speak to their subjects, who he alleged was fond of attacking NCS officers while performing their duties.
Addressing the traditional rulers, Nnadi appealed to them to join hands in stopping smuggling, which he said usually marks the beginning of the various attacks on officers of the NCS.
The Controller recalled the recent gruesome killing of two customs officers at a village in Yewa North, appealing to the monarchs to work with the NCS towards making Ogun, especially the border communities peaceful.
Nnadi said, “People call Ogun a war zone; let us change the narrative of how people see us. They call Yewa the war zone; the zone for smugglers and I want us to change that narrative. I don’t want people to see Ogun and Yewa in particular as a war zone.
These smugglers attack officers of the Nigeria Customs Service, this is highly condemnable. Recently, two of our officers were murdered in Yewa in cold blood, this is unacceptable and we want it to stop.
He continued, “As our traditional rulers, please sensitise your subjects on the dangers of smuggling. From time immemorial, Yewa people are known to be peace-loving, accommodating and law-abiding. What has changed?
“Why are we allowing the younger generation to destroy our historical facts? We must let people know who we are because we generate a lot of revenue for the government. Please help us to stop attacks on customs officers.”
While responding to the charge, Oba Olugbenle insisted that Yewa indigenes are not smugglers.
The monarch said that non-indigenes should be blamed for the smuggling activities in the porous borders in the zone.
The Olu of Ilaro, however, conceded that there might be collaborators amongst his subjects, asking the NCS to work hand-in-hand with traditional rulers to fish out the economic saboteurs.
Olugbenle, however, urged the government to address the issue of unemployment, poverty and hunger, which he said were the reasons people venture into snuggling.
He appealed to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to reopen the borders in Ogun State to allow legitimate businesses to flourish.
In his remarks, the Alake of Egbaland said he would not support smugglers, saying the NCS generates part of the money being used by the government for developmental purposes.
He promised his continued support for the service, adding that never will he have to beg the service on behalf of a smuggler.
He said “You have my support, I once bought a car with a customs duty of N25 million although expensive but after deep thinking I decided to take it. So, never will I have to come and beg for a smuggler.
“I won’t beg for a smuggler because if I have to beg for smugglers and at the long run customs is unable to make money for the government, how then will the government get money to fix the schools and the roads so, I will never be a part to smuggling.”