Smuggling: Ogun traditional rulers pledges support to Customs Several royal fathers of various kingdoms in Ogun State have pledged support to Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in a bid to curb smuggling activities in the state border regions. The royalties gave this assurance while receiving the new Customs Area Controller of Ogun 1 Command, Comptroller Dera Nnadi who paid courtesy visits to their palaces yesterday. During the tour, the Customs boss assured the royalties that his administration would prioritize collaboration instead of wars, encouraging the rulers to educate their subjects on the effects of smuggling on the nation’s economy. Addressing the Council of Obas of Yewa Land, Comptroller Nnadi recalled that the people of Yewa were historically known as peaceful industrious traders, admonishing the leaders to curb the excesses of the indigenes especially youths who have taken to smuggling and attacking Customs officers. His words: “I bring you greetings from Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) and the Zonal Coordinator, Zone A, ACG Modupe Aremu. I’m not new to Ogun State and I’m not new to Yewa Land. I have been to the most of your palaces and here this Obas’ Council as Deputy Controller.” “I’m here as a servant to serve Ogun State and Yewa Land. As such I’m your subject, NCS in Ogun 1 Command has one mandate to make Ogun the main gateway to Nigeria’s gateway to Nigerian economy. If Ogun is the gateway, then as leaders, you’re at the heart of it” The Customs boss noted that Ogun State is ranked number 4 in the contribution of Gross Domestic Product GDP, after Lagos, Port Harcourt and Delta, adding that over 80% of this contribution comes from Yewa Land. Nnadi stressed that the relationship between Customs and the people of Yewa Land must change. “We need to change the way people see us because I’m one of you. Let’s change the toga of war zones and create a gateway where business flows and economic activities thrive. I’m happy that I’m talking to royal fathers who have the authority, royal and spiritual mandate to change that toga. I don’t want people to see Customs as the war zone anymore,” he said. According to the Customs boss, the recent incident of two Customs officers being murdered in cold blood in Yewa Land shouldn’t be the norm. He, however, stressed that the community and its people return to the former years when the society was a peaceful place for trade. “You have always been genuine businessmen, we should go back to history, know where we changed and address it. When investors read the front page newspaper and all they see is killing and war, no one would want to invest here. I’m here today to correct that narrative,” Comptroller Nnadi said. On his part, Oba Akintunde Adeyemi, the Esolu of Iselu, Yewa North, urged Customs to desist from the brute use of force in dealing with indigenes. “In my town there are between 20-30 Customs officers and they threat indigenes in an inhumane manner. Anywhere in the world, it is the way you behave that people would react. Please educate your officers to treat people well.” “We are practically farmers here and petty traders. Some outsiders use our children for major trade and the you have educate your officers,” Oba Akintunde said. Meanwhile, His Royal Majesty (HRM), Oba (Barr.) Jayeola Agunbiade, the Alagbara of Agbara, encouraged Customs to be more concerned with policing the borders to prevent smuggled items from entering the country instead of raiding shops and houses. He, however, lamented that despite the huge contribution of Ogun State and Yewa Land to the nation’s purse, there aren’t sufficient infrastructure in the region even as he posited that Customs could also give back to the society via Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). “Customs officers can also approach traditional rulers when they want to carry out any major operations. We can give you information that would assist you so that innocent souls wouldn’t be affected,” he said. The Customs delegation also visited the Agura of Gbogura Kingdom, Oba Saburi Babajide Bakare and the Alakin of Egbaland, HRM Oba (Dr.) Michael Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo.