The Nigeria Customs Service in Katsina State has said smugglers are sabotaging the fight against insecurity.
Wada Chedi, the Acting Comptroller of the agency in the state, made the statement at a press briefing at his office in Katsina Monday evening.
He said smugglers are aiding bandits to overcome measures the state government had put in place to check their activities.
In Katsina, like in other North-west states, incessant bandits’ attacks have led to deaths, abductions, and displacements of residents.
The state government recently took some security measures, with the view to stopping the bandits from roaming freely and connecting with their colleagues.
These include shutting down weekly markets and mobile telecommunications networks, banning the sale of fuel in jerry cans, blocking two major Inter-state roads, and banning the movement of domestic animals in trucks.
While briefing journalists, Mr Chedi said smugglers have now devised a new method of taking goods to the bandits, especially fuel.
He said the smugglers fabricate bigger tanks for motorcycles and vehicles to get enough space for fuel, which they sell to the bandits.
“Recently, we intercepted and seized two Peugeot 504 vehicles which the smugglers have fabricated their tanks to carry a larger quantity of fuel. The smugglers would go to the fuel stations with these vehicles and motorcycles and buy fuel which they will resell to bandits.
“We were able to get information on their activities through intelligence. We monitored them up to the point where they had bought the fuel and taking them to the bandits but as soon as they sensed our presence, because they are very sensitive, they abandoned the vehicles and the motorcycles which we immediately seized,” Mr. Chedi said.
On the relationship between the Service and border communities, the acting commander said they have been reaching out to residents of the communities for a cordial relationship.
He added that they had a consultative meeting with representatives of the communities as part of their efforts to forge a positive relationship and enlighten the residents on the importance of helping the Service to fight smuggling.
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Mr Chedi also debunked the allegation that the Service has abandoned families of those killed by a driver of the Service in Jibia town, and of hiding the identity of those who shot a man in Fadi Gurje in Mani recently.
He said, “We have not abandoned the victims and their families. Indeed, all those injured have been discharged from the hospital and we are always with them in prayers.”
On the Fadi Gurje incident, Mr Chedi said an investigation was still ongoing, to reveal the identity of the officer who fired the shot.