Secretary General, World Customs Organisation (WCO) Dr Kunio Mikuriya has lamented that Customs personnel are often targets of terrorists and armed groups.
The WCO boss noted this when he led a delegation of the organisation on a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday.
Dr Mikuriya described WCO as a 184-member worldwide organization, in which Nigeria plays an active and vibrant role.
He said Customs mandates must now go beyond mere revenue generation, and delve into security, as “without security at the borders, we cannot effectively collect revenue.”
Mikuriya lamented that Customs officials are often targets of terrorists and armed groups, “and so we need to have collaboration with other security agencies, share intelligence, and deploy technology.”
In his welcome address, President Buhari said Nigeria and her neighbours must place a higher premium on effective policing of borders, as the fragile nature of entry points into various countries enhance terrorism, economic sabotage, and illicit flow of arms.
Appreciating the WCO Secretary for his 4th visit to the Country, President Buhari said, his visit is timely especially as the nation draws near to its general election.
Speaking on the theme of the conference which is: “Enabling Customs in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations”, the President said is of critical importance for Nigerians as a country and the continent to be security conscious.
Speaking further, he said it gladdens his heart, that the WCO has dedicated an entire conference to the subject and theme, “thus recognizing not only its importance but dedicating working sessions and brainstorming around it and inviting great thought leadership to dissect the issues and explore how nations in Africa can address this problem given our unique set of circumstances while also pursuing our joint and collective idea of an interconnected continent via trade and movement of goods and services.”
He briefed the WCO Secretary General and his team on several efforts in combating the challenges of fragile borders, which include:
“Our National Security strategy 2019 which promotes close inter-agency cooperation and the National Counter-Terrorism strategy which mandates Nigeria Customs Service to support other Agencies of government on fighting terrorism;
“Support for the armed forces in launching operations to secure our borders;
“Demonstration of a strong political will to support Nigeria Customs Service, as a critical agency of the state in the discharge of its security and revenue mandates;
“Approval of the Federal Executive Council for a new Customs Modernization Project that actively promotes the integration of technology into border operations;
And “the ongoing effort to review the Customs enabling law to strengthen the Nigeria Customs Service and provide stiffer sanctions against smuggling and other criminal acts.”
President Buhari is however, hopeful that the conference will seek to understand the operating environment that exists around countries that struggle with fragile borders, and see how comprehensive and exhaustive solutions can be proposed that deal with the multi-faceted nature of the issues.
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