Students in Ogun State have blamed the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) over alleged influx of illegal firearms into the country through the borders in the state.
The students have therefore called for the redeployment of Controller of the Ogun 1 Area Command, Comptroller Peter Kolo, before August 31, 2021, or they would take to the street.
The students, under the aegis of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Ogun, the National Association of University Students (NAUS) and the National Association of Ogun State Students (NAOSS) lamented that the Ogun 1 Area Command of the Service was becoming a toothless bulldog when it comes to fighting smuggling activities in the country.
These allegations were made at a press conference jointly addressed by the Chairman of NANS JCC, Damilola Simeon Kehinde; National President of NAOSS, Ogunrombi Gbemileke and the National Vice President of NAUS, Adebowale Abdul-Ghaffar Adeniran.
The students accused Comptroller Kolo, of “gross ineptitude, absolute incompetence and visible indifference in securing the borders of Ogun state.”
They alleged that the upsurge of smuggling activities and the influx of illegal firearms into Nigeria had further worsened insecurity in the country.
“There has been a severe and steady decline in the service delivery of the Nigeria Customs Service, thereby breaking the trust and mutual relationship between the agency and Ogun State citizens.
“Beyond smuggling of contraband products, they now take advantage of the Nigeria Customs Service’s non-challant attitude to sneak in arms and ammunitions.
“The relaxed attitude of the Nigeria Customs Service is slowly turning Ogun State to a hotbed for gun-running, thereby jeopardizing the security of the armless citizens.
“More than ever, the circulation of unregistered and unlicensed guns on the street has massively increased. If this trend continues, we may start experiencing gunfights with heavy casualties across our campuses,” the students stated.
Speaking further, the students’ leaders urged the NCS to work in synergy with other sister security agencies to nip the problem in the bud, saying “This steady decline has exposed Students and the general public to grave danger by the unabated actions of smugglers in the State.”
“As a principal stakeholder and the leadership of all Aluta Barracks in the Gateway state and diaspora, we hereby declare Comptroller Peter Chad Kolo, persona non grata and demand that the National Headquarters of the Nigeria Customs Service withdraw Comptroller Peter Chad Kolo from Ogun State. His actions, inactions, and the current realities suggest an internal aiding and abetting of smuggling by the Customs Service.
“By August 31st, 2021, the entire Students Constituency of Ogun State will not hesitate to stage a massive protest if Comptroller Peter Chad Kolo remains in charge of Ogun 1 Area,” they threatened.
While reaching to the allegations, the Spokesman of the command, Hammed Oloyede, said the achievements of the NCS in Ogun under the watch of Kolo negated every allegation made by the student’s bodies.
Oloyede wondered where the students got the claim of the influx of firearms, asking what they have done as patriotic citizens to assist the NCS in intelligence gathering.
“We are doing our best, we are making a seizure of contraband items. So, what are they saying? Have they forgotten that we have several unapproved routes in Ogun State? Despite that, we do not rest on our oars. We are making concerted efforts to ensure that smuggling is reduced drastically.
“I don’t know where they got their fact or statistics from. As patriotic citizens, when you observe certain things, you state the efforts you are making to reduce smuggling to the barest minimum.
“If someone is doing everything to combat smuggling and someone somewhere is making allegations that could be regarded as baseless, it’s uncalled for, it’s unfounded. Are they blind to the good works we have been doing? It’s disheartening, it’s uncalled for.
“They should not forget the nature of our borders, yet we are still policing it. They don’t know what they’re talking about.
“They should just cooperate with us. If they have information, they should release it; if they have intelligence, they should tell us.
“If they see firearms being smuggled, who have they contacted? What efforts have they made regarding that? How did they get such information? Who and who have they seen smuggling such things into the country for them to come to the public and be saying all sorts of things? the spokesperson queried.