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Wasting Assets: A ray of hope for ‘Customs Pride’, ‘Group of Nine’ vessels

CPRO says vessels in process of being refitted 

One of the boats moored at the marina waterfront, Lagos

There is finally a ray of hope that
the Nigeria Customs’ state of the art patrol boats, specially procured to battle smuggling but later abandoned since 2015 may soon be ‘resurrected’, to
perform the task they were hitherto acquired for.

their current state could not be determined, in terms of actual decay or class,
a NOMMA investigation shows that the Nigeria Customs Service has finally begun
to fine-tune arrangements to utilize the 
vessels: ‘Customs Pride’ and the ‘Group
of Nine’.

Concerned stakeholders and the Nigerian media had since 2015
wondered why the Nigeria Customs Service morred it’s security patrol vessels
(the ‘Customs Pride and the ‘Group of Nine’) at Marina in Lagos,
rather than make it operational for anti-smuggling operations along the creeks.

Revealing the ray of hope in a telephone call on Sunday,
the Customs Public Relations Officer
(CPRO), Mr. Joseph Attah,
told our correspondent on inquiries why the vessels had laid idle for
about four years now; pointing out
that Customs high command was working round the clock to
ensure its effectiveness, when it finally comes midstream.
“The vessels didn’t immediately get fitted with the required
hardware to make them fit as security patrol vessels, because the last
administration left very shortly after they were acquired.

as we speak, the Service is in fresh talks and is collaborating with the
Nigerian Navy to get the vessels fitted with the facilities to get them ready
for security patrol operations.”

CPRO also mentioned that in readiness for a well-defined and effective
anti-smuggling operation along the creeks, the Service had started an
in-country training of some officers of the Marine Commands.

to the issue of the Western Marine Command of the Customs Service hiring wooden
boats to transport seized smuggled rice, Attah said though he wasn’t aware of
it, the quantity of seized goods may have warranted it.

argued that it wouldn’t be out of place for the operations team to decide on a
harmless initiative to get an assignment done.

words: “I don’t think it would be out of place if the command hired wooden
boats to support what they have, in order to get their operation completed. If
they had to move seized goods at that point in time, they can muster all available

however, added that even if the two vessels were operational, they would serve
for security patrol only, and not for moving seized bags of smuggled rice.

the CPRO has declined to assign a figure to the cost of purchasing the vessels,
nor the cost of maintaining the vessels at the marina waterfront since they
were brought in 2015.

Investigations recall that when the attention of the Nigeria Customs Service
was drawn to the idling security patrol boats in 2018, newsmen were told that
plans had been concluded to engage the boats for operations.

it is hoped that this time around the Service would be alive to its
responsibility to engage the vessels for security patrol along the creeks, to
further check the troubling smuggling activities.

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