By Paul Michael, Defence Editor
To stem the tide of smuggling, banditry and other criminal activities, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) have agreed to synergize their efforts toward strengthening border security.
In a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) recently signed between both organizations at an event held at the NCS Headquarters in Abuja, NAF is expected to compliment NCS Air-Wing by making available on request two of its pilots to assist with operation of NCS Bell-427 helicopter.
The MoU, which specifically sets out the terms of a joint commitment, is expected to enhance efficiency in the areas of port and border patrols to curtail activities of smuggling syndicates across the country.
Speaking at the event, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, stated that NAF will continue to encourage partnership with other security agencies as well as provide aircraft maintenance support so as to enhance the fight against all forms of insecurity in the country.
The Chief of Air Staff, who was represented by the Director of Operations, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Nnamdi Ananaba, added that the NAF partnership with the NCS was a clear indication of the need for synergy and inter-agency cooperation particularly between military and para-military organizations.
According to him, “The MoU will go a long way in building on the already existing cordial and cooperative relationship as well as ensure seamless collaboration between our organizations.”
He further stressed that the current security challenges in the country calls for the need to bridge the gap and divide that disconnects the military and other government agencies in order to work towards achieving a common goal.
On his part, Comptroller General of NCS, Colonel Hameed Ali (Rtd), in his remarks, noted that the partnership with the NAF will no doubt improve NCS’ air operations and anti-smuggling efforts particularly as it intensifies efforts in checkmating small arms proliferation across the country.
Col Ali also thanked the CAS for offering to deploy NAF pilots to NCS’ air operations wing, so as to enhance its anti-smuggling operations. He called on the NAF and other Services to consider partnering with the NCS in the areas of capacity building and purposeful manpower development to improve the output of NCS personnel.
Specifically, Col Ali requested assistance of the Armed Forces of Nigeria in training of NCS personnel in para-trooping and other related fields. This, according to him, “became necessary in view of inaccessible areas used as smuggling routes which are mostly unmotorable and difficult to navigate,” hence the need for the NCS to begin to consider inserting its troops in these locations via para-dropping.
The porous nature of Nigeria borders has made it very easy for smuggling and criminal activities to thrive in the country. On a daily basis, small arms and light weapons, bandits, hard drugs and other restricted goods gain access into the country and worsen the state of security.
The NCS and other security agencies with the responsibility of providing border security in the country need more support and partnership to curb and bring to a halt the alarming activities of smugglers and other criminal elements.