Border closure: Smuggling persists along border communities ― Customs boss

Despite border closure, smuggling still persists at border communities in the North Central states of the country, Comptroller, Joint Border Drill Operations codenamed “Swift Response” in Kwara State, Mohammed Garba, has said.

Speaking during a three-day sensitisation programme with traditional rulers and stakeholders in border communities along Kaiama-Jebba-Mokwa-Wawa-Babanna-Kotangora axis of Kwara and Niger States respectively, the Customs boss decried the attitude of die-hard smugglers whom, he said, are still operating in that axis despite the border closure.

The border drill operation covers North Central states of Kwara, Niger, Kogi and Benue states.

At the palace of the district head, Babanna community, the coordinator said that perpetrators and economic saboteurs have devised new means of using bush-paths, motorbikes and camels to carry out their nefarious activities.

The Customs boss, who frowned at the activities of the smugglers, reiterated that there is no retreat on the fight against smuggling in whatever disguise.

He appealed to the community, district heads and the general public to embrace legitimate means of livelihood and to avoid smuggling in all its ramifications, saying that men in the operations are battle ready to halt all the new techniques initiated by economic saboteurs to perpetuate their illicit acts.

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The coordinator said that the movement of all types of vehicles/boat used for transportation of petroleum products across the land borders and waterways within 20km radius has been restricted, added that anyone caught violating the order would be prosecuted and jailed.

Also speaking, the district head of Babanna community, Alhaji Isah Yerima, confirmed that the security situation in the community had improved since the border closure and pledged to assist security agencies in the national assignment to succeed.

The district head promised to enlighten the community and its environs on the benefits of border closure and dangers of smuggling.

At the Emir Palace in Wawa, the coordinator said, “we cannot continue to fold our arms and allow every Tom, Dick and Harry enter into our country. The uncontrolled migration hinders the government from having proper statistics and data for her national development.

“Trans-border crimes, such as smuggling of small arms and light weapons, human trafficking, drugs trafficking and terrorism are among other security challenges that have to be checked. During this time, the crime rate became unbearable; drugs were becoming a way of life among our teeming youths that might be part of reasons that informed the Federal Government to partially close its border.”

The Dodo of Wawa, Dr Mahmud Ahmed Aliyu, responded that the aim of Federal Government to partially close its border is for the well being of nation’s economy and that he will support the Federal Government in achieving this goal.

He went further to say that the Emirate council has a long-standing cordial relationship with all the security agencies in his domain and promised to do all it takes to assist the sector in achieving the task at hand.

At the palace of the Emir of Kotangora, the coordinator explained that the purpose of his visit to the palace is to strengthen the existing cordial relationship and as well solicit for greater cooperation. He explained that border closure is aimed at encouraging local farmers; control the inflow of arms and ammunition, stop illicit drugs and all other prohibited goods in and out of the country.

The Emir of Kotangro, Alh. Saidu Namaska, commended the Federal Government for taking the bold step to partially close its borders. He applauded the coordinator for choosing traditional institutions as his focal point, who are the grassroots mobilisers, for this sensitisation program. He prayed for the peace and progress of the country.

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