Border Closure: Border Drill Operatives In The North Central Geo-Political Region Give Smugglers Sleepless Night

By Elizabeth Chukwuma

Muhammed Uba  Garba,  a former Comptroller, Seme, Command and now  acting  Assistant  Comptroller  General , ACG, overseeing the north central geo-political region, comprising  of  Kwara, Niger, Kogi, Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa states, border Drill Operations , appears to have  sent a signal to the  Cross –border smugglers,   in Baruten local government Area of  Kwara  state  and other Border Communities  in the region  shuttling  between Republic of Benin and Nigeria, that it is no  longer business as usual . 

The north Central Border Drills Coordinator  may have toughened the officers to be very daring  in accessing the difficult terrains in  the Border Communities in Kwara, particular, to smoke out the smugglers from their hideout because of the renewed Collaboration between the traditional rulers  and other stakeholders  in the region, including the Youths  of the Border Communities.

Investigation by The Value News shows that the people   are  now ready    to volunteer information that could assist the sector 3 Border Drill Operatives in Ilorin, kwara state, Zonal Command  to hunt down the  die-hard smugglers in the region.

Until Muhammed deployment to the  region,   as the Border Drills Coordinator, many  of the  smugglers from the north west and the south west, who had  relocated to the region, were said to be been going  about  with their  smuggling   activities in the  Border Communities between Nigeria and Benin, as if  they were carrying out genuine trade without interruption.

Security watcher Communities   said the intensified anti-smuggling  operations  at the Border Communities in the region over the last one month  had   given some of   the smugglers   who could no longer stand the heat a cause for  Concern that they have been forced to   lie low for now  and watch the direction of the Muhammed  led Border Drill personnel  before taking the next step. They  were said  to have gone   underground  on the advice of their sponsors  to avoid their goods  falling into the waiting hands of the   Border Drill Operatives.

Moreso, they  have realised that the traditional rulers and the Youths  who usually give them protection in the past could no longer do  so  as they  have  been made to understand about the dangers of smuggling to the economy  as many  Industries  had been  forced to close down because of unfair Competition from the  foreign smuggled  goods into the country as   people are thrown out of Job.

 Muhammed,  according to a confirmed report , has taken  his sensitization Campaign on the Border Drill Operations in the north Central geo-political region to Niger , home state  of Two former Heads of State, retired Generals Ibrahim Bangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar and  many other retired Army Generals.  He had started  the sensitization Campaign at the Border  Communities in Baruten  local government Area , as well as paying Curtesy calsl on the  paramount  rulers of the Communities . He was said to have also held town Hall meeting  with the Youths of the Border Communities  and other stakeholders as a way of carrying them along  in the anti-smuggling war to curtail the activities of  smugglers in the state.

Muhammed Briefing Aliyu, The Wawa District Head, In Bargu Local Government Area

As a prelude to addressing the  Border Drill Operatives   at  Jebba, Mokwa, Wawa, Babanna, Kaima and Kotongora check point of the  state,  the  Babagana Munguno, a retired Army General, Border Drill , Zonal Coordinator,  was said to have started his familirisation tour  of the state with a courtesy call  on   Mahmood Ahmed Aliyu, the District Head of  Wawa Community, in Bargu  Local government Area.

 The  District  was said to have   given his words  to give all  the necessary information  that could assist the  sector 3, Border Drill Zonal  Command, to  do their work  in the state . An appreciative Aliyu , was said to have thanked the Border Drills sector three Coordinator  for taking out time  out of his busy schedule to be at his Palace , to explain the government  rationale  for the Border Closure  and the importance  of the Operations   in securing  the nation’s maritime Borders against  economic Crimes and threats to national security.

The explanation of the Border Drills regional Coordinator may have opened  Aliyu’s  eyes  to know that  Benin Republic  and the other countries  , affected in the Border Closure , had  been bad  neighbours  over the years, sabotaging the nation’s economy.

The Coordinator  was said to have made the Wawa District Head to know that 15 Heads  of State and Government of the Economic Community of  West African States, ECOWAS, had adopted a trade protocol and signed various   trade  Agreements and Memorandum of Understanding, MoUs, to promote regional manufactured goods and  agricultural products,   which  Nigeria , had respected over the years but  the  other West African   countries   , had refused to Comply  with it, particular, Benin Republic. Indeed, Benin  has turned itself as  a gate way for smuggling  of Contraband : foreign par boiled rice, processed Vegetable Oil and second Hand clothing into the country and other prohibited goods    through unapproved  routes spread in different parts of the  country . 

 Many believe that Muhammed , down to earth explanation  to the District Head  about the Border Drill Operations may have prepared his mind to mobilise  his people to support  the government Border Drill Operations, efforts to ensure that Nigeria was not turned into   a dumping ground,  for third party goods and agricultural products, particular,  foreign par boiled rice.

 Eye witness account disclosed that having received the royal blessing , the Coordinator was encouraged   to continue his sensiistation and familirisation visits  which took him to Wawa and  other  Border Drill  checkpoints in the state.

 His message  was very clear to the officers: Go out and Block the Borders across the state,  with Benin Republic: to ensure that nothing enters or leaves the country. He had stopped short at telling the Border Drill Operatives: I want to see  the seizures of Contraband.  The Border  Drill Operatives   appear to have gotten the message  right  as they were said to have  promised to do their work according to the mandate handed down to them by the government.

Note  that  between January 1st  and now, the north Central Border Drill alone , had made 124 seizures , comprising of   12 trailers load of  the Asia country  of Thailand parboiled rice and  52  different brands of fairly used vehicles  and other vehicles  conveying   Contraband   goods  with a total Duty Paid Value , of about N568.4 million.

 The good news  was that the Border Drills Operative  Team  leaders in the region   are Competing among themselves  to make seizures  to win the heart of the Zonal Coordinator. The Magazine Findings shows  that the  Border Drills personnel  may have read the handwriting on the wall that the Coordinator, who is a disciplinarian, was   not ready to take  any nonsense,  as they  ensure that the right thing are done  without any  Compromise.

 This may have informed why  the Border Drills Patrol Team leaders at the  Check points, from Kwara, Niger, Benue, Kogi, to Nasarawa and other Patrol Team leaders to be    making  seizures of Contraband  in a region  , described as  witnessing low smuggling activities compared to the north, south west and  the south-south geo-political regions in the past..

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