From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
The Comptroller of Customs in charge of Ogun 1 Area Command, Peter Kolo, has called for the support of traditional rulers in the state against the activities of smugglers.
Kolo, who called for this support during courtesy visits to the Alake and the Paramount Ruller of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, the Agura of Gbagura, Oba Saburi Babajide Bakre and the Olu of Kobape, Oba Olufemi Allen-Taylor, on Saturday, also declared that operatives of the command are not a ‘killer squad’ but a revenue-generating agent operating under the rules and guidelines set up by the Federal Government.
He noted that the Nigeria Customs Service as a federal government agency needed the support of all necessary stakeholders and the traditional rulers curb the menace of smugglers, who according to him, have been sabotaging the economy of the country.
Kolo urged the traditional rulers to educate and enlighten their subjects particularly, the youths, on the need to see customs officers as friends who are working for the economic development of the nation.
On the recent clashes between customs and smugglers which had resulted into loss of lives of residents in Ayetoro and Owode towns in the state, the Controller said his command had taken some steps on how to forestall the occurrence of such incidents.
‘I have witnessed some ugly incidents in the few weeks that I resumed in the state. There has been a loss of lives through stray bullets during crossfire between customs and smugglers and the worst thing is that the innocent lives were affected.
‘This is the reason why we have to come out and appeal to our royal fathers and stakeholders for their collaboration to prevail on our youths to stop smuggling and embrace legitimate businesses. We are ready to facilitate, encourage and support legal trades,’ Kolo stated.
In their separate responses, Oba Gbadebo, Oba Bakre and Oba Allen-Taylor pledged their support for the customs and prayed for the new Controller to succeed in Ogun State.
They noted that the Agura and Olu of Kobape as retired customs officers would ensure the customs boss enjoy his stay in Ogun and get the needed cooperation.
Kolo later visited the 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta, where he met with the Brigade Commander, Brigadier General EJ Amadasun, behind a closed door.