The Western Marine Command of the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS)recently received a boost with the launching of a sea going vessel by the CGC of the Service, Col Hameed Ali (rtd).
In this interview with the Searchlight Media team of Innocent Orok and Lola Adesokan, the Command’s Area Controller, Comptroller Boyilila Binga spoke on sundry issues and promised smugglers hell, as the new vessel is set to battle economic saboteurs to a halt in Nigerian Waterways. Read on
For the purpose of the Nigerian public, let’s know you sir?
Thank you very much, Am Comptroller Boyilila Binga from Donga LGA of Taraba state, Donga town precisely.
I schooled in Benue, that’s Markurdi, schooled in Jos, schooled in Tagun ended up in Maiduguri.
Joined the Service in 1987. Have been moving around the country from one command to the other, I have gone through almost all the geographical zones in the country. I have gone through them working and now a Controller, controlling the Western Marine Command of the Nigeria Customs Service.
Can you give us an overview of your Command’s activities since you resume office?
I have been able to get a lot of things done here by God’s Grace. We have made a lot of seizures ,we made about 39 seizures from August 2018 to September 2019 with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of over N151million .
In relation to what was obtained in the previous year 2018, within the same period which was N128.5million with 55 seizures. So you find out that there is a great rise in the DPV of what we have seized so far.
We observed recently that you have been recording constant seizures especially on poultry products, is there any new trick behind this?
The trick there is intelligence gathering, filtering them and acting on the intelligence reports that comes out of it. You know normally smugglers won’t come out and tell you am a smuggler and this or that is what am carrying. All they do is to conceal and its our duty to unseal and catch them. So its been based on that report and intelligence gathering that we’ve been operating with.
We observed that most of your senior officers like ACs and DCs were transfered and they have not been replaced , is it not affecting your management decision mechanism?
Of cause not, we have what is called lay down principles of work. You know the movement is a policy of the Service. Whether they are there or not, the work still goes on. Being a policy of the Service, you cannot do without it, there are transfers, retirements and movements here and there.
For your own information, they go for higher responsibilities, that’s to show that we have capable hands here for them to be moved around.
Sir, life at sea is not easy, in your own leadership style, how do you motivate your Officers for maximum performance?
Going along with them, that is morally, physically and spiritually. You see, once you bring a child closer and he knows that you are always there for him, he will do what you want him to do, its as simple as that.
Talking about the encroachment of your Command by illegal occupants, has the command finally secured its land space to avoid future trespassers?
The situation is we are there working on it and also trying to be sure of what to do. If there is an encroachment government will take care of that, its not individual fight, we have secured what we are seeing now, but in the future, if we discover that our boundary extends further than where we are now, we will definitely go for it. You can not take government land and say you will go scot free, government will not leave you.
What is the next phase of development in the command in terms of housing projects including the commands office which was in the pipeline?
These are capital intensive projects, its not what you would just seat overnight and fling a finger and its done. It has to go through processes and knowing the nature of this place, even if you are going to put up the structure of a one bedroom flat, the foundation alone if you really want it to stand will be more than that of a duplex somewhere else.
So, its capital intensive as I said and government takes its time to go through all things such as this. But we are still expecting it, there is hope because we have a government and we can not be hopeless.
We observed that your jetty is not well constructed and its littered with abandoned wrecks, what are you doing about it?
We have made presentation to management, even the jetty itself I think the contractor is not doing a good job and it had been out of the place for a long time, we’ve not seen him for long, so we have made presentation to management about it and you know contracts, it depends on what you have on it just like we have the P&ID.
If you revoke the contract you don’t know what will happen since we didn’t award the contract, so its left for the management to take its decision, we have made our presentation.
Sir, we know you are excited about the new commissioned vessel and you are ready to go to war with the smugglers. How many other boats / equipment will you be deploying to fight the economic saboteurs ?
We have them and we are working with what we have based on the situation we are in. Like the one we just commissioned, you know its not what one will just go to the shelves and pick, it has to be on order and processes, but the ones we have on ground we are making proper use of them.
Getting closer to the yuletide festive season one word for the die hard economic saboteurs?
We are up to the task and not only that our vessels will soon be deployed so, if they think they are coming to the waters they are wasting their time, we will smash them, we are ready for them.
On this note we will like to say thank you to the management for being there for us always, without their cooperation we can do nothing.
They’ve been there for us and we try as much as we can, to live up to their expectations. We are grateful to them for all the assistance they have been given to us.
You can see it yourself, what happened during the launching of the vessels and the CGC has promised us a lot and we are ready to deliver . The more we are given that trust, the more we have to work on it to proof that the trust is not a waste.
Marine Command is the Deadliest-
O/C Enforcement WMC
As the man handling the operations in the field, how has it being achieving these feats and your word for smugglers?
You know the primary assignment of Nigeria Customs Service, the first one is to generate revenue and account for same, the second one is suppressing of smuggling to the bearest minimum.
So that is where Marine Command falls in. There is no revenue target for Marine Commands. Ours is to suppressed smuggling activities.
Waterways is different from land borders or roads. We have to apply techniques and we must take precautions and cautions. On the roads you can position your boys and give them fast instruction such as get down , Corked your guns and the rest, but you can’t do such on the waterways. So we need to be watchful with our six senses in combating this smugglers and we achieved a lot through what is called information patrol, because we make use of local boys within the creeks for information even though we lack some serviceable boats, but despite that, we are able to carry out our jobs effectively.
To the best of my knowledge, the number of seizures speaks volume for us. Frozen chickens, PMS, Cannabis and the rest. How do we manage to do that on the waterways, we thank God who has always been on our side. we have been able to achieve a lot.
And on the waterways they have seen that its not a thoroughfare for them.
There is no way they can manipulate and go scott free, even though we can not do all, but with God on our side we have been able to achieve a lot.
What Other challenges do your team face on the sea?
Actually it is not easy to position boats here and there on the sea, but the major challenge we have has to do with the villagers that monitors the movements of our officers. You know, we are a little handicap, if we are in a position, they will inform the smugglers not to come out that we are around, once we patrol else where they will inform them and before you know it they are gone.
This is a department whereby when ever you are to carry out your duties you must put on your lifejacket which means you can die at any time. The lifejacket is to just protect you to float on the waters, its like when you are boarding an aircraft, they will tell you to fasten your seat belt and also in case of anything your lifejacket is under your seat.
But, in this command you must put on your lifejacket before anything and its very easy to destroy , look at the issue of the “Group of Nine,” they were burnt to ashes by the people paddling canoe, pretending as if they are fishermen, on getting to the officers boat side they threw matches at them, the PMS they were carrying got fire and burnt everybody.
The deadliest command you can think of is anything that has to do with marine. You can not carry out your circular duties without lifejacket and that means you are cut out to go just in case if it happens, that’s just it.