FG count gains of border closure
By Eguono Odjegba
Following closely on the heel of unprecedented woes visited on Nigerians engaged in sundry trade and businesses in Ghana, apparently in retaliation of the Seme Krake border closure, the Federal Government has commenced a face saving measure to stave off rising criticism.
The Nigeria Customs Service says a year after the closure of the Nigeria border imple by the Joint Border Drill, codenamed ‘Exercise SWIFT RESPONSE ’ “appreciable results have been recorded, particularly in the areas of security, economy, agriculture and inter-agency collaboration.”
The exercise which commenced on Augus 20, 2019, involves the Nigerian Customs Service,NCS, and the Nigerian Immigration Service,NIS, in collaboration with the Armed Forces of Nigeria, AFN, as well as the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, and other security and intelligence agencies, and coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA.
The statement signed on behalf of Col. Hameed Ali, retired, Customs Comptroller General, by the Customs National Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah said a total of eleven billion, thirty million, sixty two thousand, nine hundred and fifty two naira, fifty kobo, N11,030,062,952.50, have been realised from seizures of questionable items along the border line, in addition to scaling down the rate of national insecurities, hitherto.
The statement reads:”The present administration, through ONSA took a definitive step to put Nigeria on the path to food sufficiency, stem the flow of illicit arms into the country and improve national security through the Exercise.
“The exercise has no doubt saved the country huge resources and enhanced national security. For instance, the smuggling of drugs and proliferation of small arms and light weapons which are drivers to terrorism and other forms of criminalities in the country have been considerably curtailed.
“The exercise has also made it more difficult for terrorists and other criminals to acquire arms and ammunition, while criminal elements find it challenging to make their way into the country through the land and maritime borders. This has thus contributed to the reduction in cases of transnational organized crimes.”
The customs boss said the exercise has effectively reorganized and refocused local production priority designed to pave the way to changing the sad narrative to Nigeria’s import dependent economy.
“Exercise SWIFT RESPONSE has also boosted production of agricultural products, especially local rice, tomatoes, maize, poultry e.t.c and this has stimulated the growth of the agricultural sector/economy.
“Today, Nigeria is fast attaining self-sufficiency in rice production, as the border drill has drastically reduced rice smuggling into the country and catalyzed rice production by farmers across the country, while millions of direct and indirect jobs have been created.
“Huge amount in foreign exchange, that previously went into rice importation saved. The rice farmers in the country are now venturing beyond rice cultivation to milling, packaging and marketing.”
The statement farther credited the ONSA coordinating the exercise as having recorded large numbers of seizures and arrests from the 4 sectors of the North-West, North-Central, South-West, and South-South geopolitical zones.
“As at 31st August 2020, 1,243, irregular immigrants and 622 suspected smugglers have been arre sted, while seizures include 134,042 bags of parboiled foreign rice; 9,600 bags of NPK fertilizer; 1,791 vehicles; 3,565,461.9 litres of PMS; 5,007 drums filled with PMS; 68,436.3 Jerricans of PMS; 130 engine boats; 847 motorcycles; 17,212.6 Jerricans of vegetable oil; 813 packs of Tramadol; 274 bags of cannabis; among other items.
“The estimated monetary value of the seizures is N11,030,062,952.50.”
This is even as Ali said the FG remain committed to ongoing diplomatic engagements aimed at finding lasting solutions to the concerns that necessitated the partial border closure.
“While the priority for now remains to keep our borders safe from any inimical activity that would compromise our national interests and by extension our national security. We appeal to Nigerians to continue their support for the ongoing efforts towards making the nation better secured and economically viable.”