By Chidubem Anthony
Following the relative return of peace to the insurgency-ravaged North-Eastern Nigeria and consequently the departure of some inmates from the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) dedicated camps to their ancestral homelands, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said it has now started distributing seized smuggled items to orphanages across the country.
Until now, and following a Presidential directive, the National Logistics Committee in charge of this duty was restricted to distributing these items to victims of insurgency and Boko Haram terrorism being sheltered at the various IDP camps in the north to meet their welfare needs.
However, the NCS National Public Relations Officer, Mr. Joseph Attah, told newsmen in Lagos that the relative peace in the region, which necessitates the inmates’ return to their ancestral homelands, has meant a reduction in their welfare needs in the camps.
Against this background, the Controller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), had last year secured presidential approval to extend the distribution of such relief materials as rice, vegetable oil, soap, spaghetti and used-clothing, among others, to orphanages across the country.
According to him, “with the relative peace in the region (north-east) and an increasing number of IDPs returning to their ancestral homes, there is need to extend the distribution to other victims of herdsmen crisis, communal clashes and, more importantly, orphanages across the country.”
To this end, a five-member sub-committee of senior officers charged with the distribution of the items and headed by Compt. Yakubu Salihu has arrived Lagos to begin distribution of 68,226 bags of rice, 34,332×25-litre kegs of vegetable oil, bales of second hand clothing, used foot wears and spaghetti to 98 orphanages within Zone A (Lagos), he said.
“We have foot-wears, used-clothing and other seized perishable items, which we will ensure, as much as possible, that they get to the intended recipients. We have identified 98 orphanages and are still identifying more, and are making contacts with them. Already, five orphanages have arrived while many others on the way.
“Also, these relief items will be escorted to these orphanages, where the recipients will sign landing certificates indicating that the quantities taken from the warehouse actually got to the intended orphanages and were received by their management, and the escort officers will return with the certificates.”
He further explained that the quantity per orphanage depends on the number of children per home, with the benchmark of five bags of rice per child.