President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday urge the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), to double its efforts at combating the smuggling and proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country.
Jonathan gave the charge at the inauguration of the Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, a satellite town in the Federal Capital Territory.
The Times reports that the college is accredited by the World Customs Organisation to serve as its Regional Training Centre for West and Central Africa.
The president further said that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons had contributed immensely to the security challenge in the country.
“The Nigeria Customs is indeed very strategic to the development of our nation both as a revenue earner for the nation and guardian of our borders.
“We have consistently warned about the spread of small arms across Africa and especially the West Africa region by foreign merchants of death, who are ingenious and desperate to sell their wares at our expense.
“This act has added weight to the on-going violence in some parts of the country. The Nigeria Customs Service must continue to play its part as we fight these security challenges,’’ he said.
According to him, the establishment of the college is a realisation of the importance of training in building a professional work force in line with modern day customs best practices.
Jonathan said that apart from learning, the institution would also serve as a vehicle for further integration of West and Central African sub-regions and the continent at large.
He gave assurance of his administration’s commitment to making the service a model agency of the Federal Government.
“To us, the opening of the college for operations will also reduce the need and cost of going abroad for some training courses.
“It will also help our customs to develop a locally relevant best practice that could be useful to sister institutions in other parts of the world,’’ he said.
Earlier, the Comptroller-General of NCS, Alhaji Dikko Abdullahi, said that the facilities in the college were built to world standard, adding that it held facilities for conferences, seminars and retreats.
He said the institution would serve the 23-member nations of the West and Central Africa in the WCO.
Former President Shehu Shagari and former Head of State, Abdusalami Abubakar were also present at the occasion.
Some traditional rulers including, the Emir of Kano,Ado Bayero; Emir of Shehu Idris; the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade; the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu were also at the event.
The Obi of Onitsha, Nnemeka Achebe; the Gwom-Gwom Jos, Jang Buba; the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Zulu Gambari; and the Akrann of Badagry also graced the inauguration.