Border Closure: Border Drills Operative Tighten Security At Kwara ,and other states In The North Central

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By Stephen Ubanna

Barely  two weeks of resuming  at Ilorin , Capital of Kwara state, north  central , Nigeria, and operational base of the Joint Border Drills , popular, Operation Swift  Response, and  Mohammed Uba Garba, a former Comptroller  of Seme Command  and now  acting  sector 3, Commander   appear set to   re-enact all what he did  at Federal Operations Units, FOU Zone C and A and his former  in the anti-smuggling war that forced many smugglers  to go underground.

As an experienced anti-smuggling officer, who  knew  that the only to achieve result in the region  would be be carry both the critical stakeholders  in the region and the officers along was said to have used first one week at Ilorin to hold  Consultations with the people.  The close interaction with the people including Officers  attached to Border Drills operation in the region , may have given him  aclue  a clue  that much  needed to be done in the region, particular, Baruten local government area of Kwara state. 

S a prelude to starting his operations in the region, he was said to had visited  the   Border Communities in Baruten local government area of the state which included Alapa, Ilesha-Baruba, Yaskira, Okuta and the notorious Chikanda Community, which earned its notoriety because of the difficult terrain.  He was said to have used the opportunity of the tour of the Local government Area to drum the support of the traditional  rulers and the Youths including  the officials of the Independent Marketers  Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, in the anti-smuggling war.

 Eyewitness account disclosed that at the various meetings with the Emirs of the Border Communities, he had  solicited their support  in information and sharing  in order to bring the smugglers to their knees.The Customs Comptroller may have also  realised the important role which  the Youths, IPMAN and other stakholders  in the Border Communities  could play in the renewed anti-smuggling war in the state and the region in general  that he was said to have held a Town Hall meeting with them to further  sensitise them on the dangers of smuggling to the economy.

The Border Drills sector 3, Commander may have won the heart o Umar Sariki Sabikpasi II, the Emir of Yashkira, who was said to have promised to  support the  Team  to do their work. The Emir, had said  that most of the smuggling activities  that  take place in his area of jurisdiction were carried out by non –indigenes.

The Yashkira Monarch may have gladdened the heart of the Customs sector 3 Border Drill Commander when he promisd to work with the Team in area of Information gathering and sharing. He may have set the stage for other Monarchs in the Border Communities  in the  Baruten local government area to follow to support the Border Drills Operation, particular, in  Kwara.   

With the mandate given to Muhammed, the former seme Command Area Comptroller  by  Ali, the Comptroller General to ensure that  the activities of smugglers in the north central  region   are brought down to the barest minimum  in order to boost local production of rice, the item mostly smuggled into the country, as well as  enhance the country’s Border security , he   said to have prepared the mind of the officers over the challenges ahead.

Muhammed: Border Drills Sector Commander Addresses Officers At Ilorin/Alapa Checkpoint

 Addressing  the staff officers and the 11 Team leaders of the Border Drills operation in the region at the  heavily guarded  Ilorin /Alapa  checkpoint, he was said to have informed them  that  the exercise  was not to witch hunt or obstruct legal trade but to force the neighbouring countries  who provide safe passage  for the smugglers  to comply  with the Economic Community of West African  States , ECOWAS, Trade Protocols. The Joint Border Drill Officers may have got the message as they were poised for action to ecell in the region by ensuring that the government policy  that  comes in or goes outside the country was maintained.

Note that the renewed  Border Drills Operation  the north central  region which   covers  Kwara, Niger, Kogi and Benue states have become the talk of the day in the recent time in the  states.  . The Staff officers and the Team leaders  were said to have read the riot act to their members  to sit up to avoid  running into  the sector Commander’s trouble, described in Customs circles as a moving Train.  Ready to crush any smuggler tanding on his way.

  Yakubu Dalandi, the Speaker of the Kwara  state House of Assembly may have known that there is trouble  ahead for smugglers in his Border Community  that he  he was said to have paid  a courtesy call to Muhammed in  his Ilorin office to ensure  that  people who engage in genuine  trade were not harassed or their goods seized.   

Recall that the sector 3, Commander  had told  the Kwara state House of Assembly  Speaker  that  the government  initiated  the Border Drills Operation which had resulted into the partial closure  of the borders  with the neighbouring West African countries of Benin, Niger and the Central African country of Cameroon,  since last August  to  curtail the rate of informal of informal trade in the country.

, Babaga Munguno, a retired Major General and National Security Adviser, NSA, and who is incidentally the National Cordinator of the programme  and  Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General , Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, the lead agency, appear to have taken the national assignment serious   going by their mandate to the sector Commanders  stop the further loss of the country’s revenue to these  countries through the informal trade on illicit goods.

Note that the country over the years had lost  billions of naira  to these neighbouring  countries   because of the undeclared  volume of  prohibited cargoes  smuggled into the co country.  The   Only last year , the  NCS, paid into the Federation Account   over  N1.3 trillio, which could not have been possible, both for the c Border  Closure which had  forced many importers  who in the past  patronise  Cotonou Terminal and Bollore port  in Benin  Republic as well as the Cameroonian ports to relocate to Nigerian ports, early abandoned  over alleged high Cost of business transactions.

They may have been forced to relocate to Nigerian ports as the era of informal trade on illicit goods was ove because of the on-going Border Drills .  Joseph Attah ,a Deputy Comptroller and Customs Spokesperson,  had said that  the Customs paid into the Federation Account  about N1342 trillion. Attah  averred that  the  amount generated   was over the   target  of  N937. 286 billion  set for 2019 by about N405 billion and about  N 139.242 billion over the sum of N1202 generated in 2018.There is no gain saying the fact much of the these amount paid into the Federation Account  could have entered into private pockets both for the Border Closure. This shows the extent to which Benin Republic, Niger and Cameroon , have been cheating Nigeria, through informal trade over the years.

Insiders told the Value News that ever since Muhammed settle at Ilorin to fully confront the smugglers in the nor central geo-political region,  information  had  round, forcing many of the smugglers who could not stand his Team superior   fire  power to relocate to far north and south western states of Ogun, Oyo and Osun to carry out their nefarious trade.

Some of others were said gone underground  to avoid losing both their goods and money to Ali’s men On the road at the various sectors of the Border Drills across the country.

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