The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has blamed terrorism and other criminal activities affecting the north and other communities along the nation’s borders for its failure to effectively mobilise much revenue for the Federal Government.

The NCS generated N2.5 trillion out of the N3.1 trillion revenue target set for it in 2022.

Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd) made the remarks Thursday, while addressing journalists at a post three-day global conference organised by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), in cooperation with the Nigerian Customs Service to mark this year’s World Customs Day. The conference was entitled “Enabling Customs in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations”.

Hameed Ibrahim said the fragility of the entire North-east, from Yobe to Mubi, which resulted in the dismantling of all existing Customs posts for collecting revenue and facilitating trade through Katsina, where some of the outposts were attacked and burnt down by vandals, were among the reasons that the department was unable to meet its revenue target. This situation, he said extended as far as to Idiroko in Ogun State.

“Of course, the revenues we are supposed to collect from those government approved routs are no longer coming. First, it affects the work we do and then, most importantly, it reduces the amount of revenue we ought to have collected,” Col. Ali said.

He stated that the fragility of the borders was also affecting its ability to raise more revenue for government, saying anytime that happens, Nigeria loses a trend of trade facilitation. “Therefore, within that period, whatever we are supposed to collect probably will not come, and the smugglers will have a field day.”

Speaking during the briefing in Abuja, WCO Secretary-General, Kunio Mikuriya, said participants at the Abuja conference agreed on an action plan to address the challenges of fragile borders which make it impossible for Customs to operate properly, owing to the insecurity created by armed non-state groups who create ungovernable enclaves.

He acknowledged that insecurity and disruption of the state’s administration affect the border economy and the livelihood of border communities.

To effectively implement the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Mikuriya said African countries need to digitalise their border securities.

“Try to make sure that the border position is really simplified and investment friendly. At the same time, I advise that industry strategy is also necessary,” he stated.