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Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun, has cautioned law enforcement agencies against being hard with residents of the state , saying, that people are going through hard times and that there is pent-up anger everywhere.
The governor urged men and officers of the Nigeria Customs Service in the state to treat his people with dignity to cooperate with them.
The governor also asked the customs operatives be civil in the discharge of their duties, particularly when dealing with members of the public.
Abiodun stated this on Friday when he received the new Customs Area Controller, Ogun 1 Area Command, Dera Nnadi, who paid him a courtesy call in his office at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.
He said “Please find a way to discharge your duties with human face. Be civil when you are dealing with the people to minimize loss of lives.
“It is only when you treat people with respect that they will cooperate and give you the support that you need to carry out your assignment.
“The Customs must change the rules of engagement. You cannot engage in shooting in the markets or on the roads, which in most cases result to death and expect the people to cooperate with you.
“These actions lead to mistrust. People are going through hard times and there is pent-up anger everywhere. So our law enforcement agencies need to exercise restraint when enforcing the law.”.
Abiodun noted further that people in the border areas have lived and engaged in trans- border commercial activities for long.
He lamented that some recent policies of the Federal Government which the Nigeria Customs Service is expected to enforce, have led to skirmishes between the customs and the people.
While calling for trust building, he expressed optimism that the new customs boss who had worked in the state before his appointment, would come up with a mission aimed at changing the narrative of incessant clashes as a result smuggling.
Speaking on the incursion into Nigeria by criminals from neighboring countries, Abiodun disclosed that the state had met with the Attorney General of the Federation and Office of the Vice President which is in charge of border matters on the issue.
He added that it was imperative to put a stop to frequent harassment of the people of the State by foreigners.
Earlier, Comptroller Nnadi stressed the importance of the state not only being a trade route that cut across the country, but also the fourth largest contributor to the nation’s GDP.
According to Nnadi, Ogun State, through Idi-Iroko has served as a trade route between Nigeria and Benin Republic for long, but regretted that it has now become a “war zone” as a result of smuggling activities.
He said though he was in the state to enforce the Federal Government’s policy, he would change the negative narratives by ensuring that his men observe the rules engagement by exercising restraint when dealing with people.
He, however, cautioned that people should desist from attacking his men and officers to forestall skirmishes.
Nnadi assured that his command would work with the state government and not allow any incursion into the nation’s territory.