Border Closure: Border Drill Operatives Tackle The Unusual Smugglers

By Stephen Ubanna

For  years,  die-hard  smugglers , in the  Border Communities in Kwara and Niger states,  north Central  geo-political region  described as very  unusual    using   Camels , motorbikes  to  smuggle  illicit goods  through bush paths into the  country had been succeeding.

 Customs personnel and other security  Operatives  located  at the Border Communities  in the states  may not have known  much  of  these bush paths  which served as  major smuggling routes . The Customs  anti-smuggling  Teams,  in the two states, according to sources, were aware that   Camels  and motor bikes , were   means of conveying smuggled  illicit goods  in the north but had  never expected to see much of it, either  in Kwara or Niger states. They  got it wrong.

 Muhammed Uba Garba, a former Comptroller , Seme Command and now acting sector 3 , Border Drills Coordinator, with Operational  base  in in Ilorin,  recent  tour of  the border Communities  in the  two  states, may have been  exposed  to the new  tactics of smugglers  to beat  Customs personnel  to it and therefore, the need to go back to the drawing board  in order to track the economic saboteurs, who were  mostly migrants from Benin Republic,  Niger, Burkina Faso and  Mali with their Nigerian Collaborators.

 The tour   which took him  and his entourage  including soldiers and the  Department of State Security, DSS , personnel, to Ilesha Baruba,  Yshkira, Okuta  and  Chikanda , which has the most  difficult terrain  in Baruten local government Area of Kwara state as well as the  Border Communities  along  Kaima , Jebba, Mokwa, Wawa, Babanna and Kotangora axis in Niger state  was very revealing.

‘’We are battle ready  to halt all the new  techniques that have been  adopted   by these economic saboteurs  to carry out their nefarious activities ‘’, in the Border Communities  between Nigeria and the Benin Republic’’, in the states he had  said.

Another major discovery that was said to have been made  by the Coordinator based on his experience   as Comptroller of Federal Operations  Unit, FOU,Zone A, Ikeja, and Seme Command  at different times, was the use of  boats  in the riverine Communities  in the  movement and transportation  of Petroleum Products  to Benin  despite the  closure of the filling stations   20 Km  to the  entry points into the country by Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Customs Comptroller Genera last year.

The  north  Central Border Drills Coordinator who could not hide his feelings   has  made it clear to those that cares to listen   that the uncontrolled  migration  into the country through these  unapproved routes  forestalls   the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS  to  have proper   the necessary  statistics and  data  to the government to guide  its  national planning programme .  

Aliyu, District Head Of Wawa In A Hand Shake Of Collaboration

According to him,  these  economic saboteurs  facilitate ‘’ trans-border crimes,  smuggling of  arms and light weapons,     drugs trafficking, terrorism , Human trafficking and other security challenges that needed to be checked’’.  At the Palace   of the District Head of Babanna,  the Coordinator,   had decried    the attitude of the die- hard smugglers  still operating  within the Border Community axis  using the  bush paths to carry out their nefarious trade. 

Boniface Anniebonam, founder, National Association of government  Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF had , lamented  that  a ship load  of the Asian country of  Thailand  parboiled rice could easily be smuggled into the Nigeria market   using Camels and motorbikes in the  northern part of the country.  He is  right. The seizure of over of 7000  ‘’50’’ bags of parboiled rice  which could be carried by 12 trucks of 600 bags each  in two weeks of the  north central  Border Operations  alone speaks volume.

Given the new tactics  adopted  by the  smugglers  in Kara and Niger states as  discovered  by the acting sector 3, Border Drills Coordinator,  he  was said to have   met   the Border  Drill  officers at the various Checkpoints   in the two states  visited  including  the DSS, Police , NIS  as well as the Heads   of the security agencies  involved  in the Operations .

He was said    to have handed  over a ‘’prepared  and signed Code of Conduct  to them, that contains the dos and don’ts, warning that ‘’anyone found violating the Code ,  Concealing Information, Compromising   or engaging  in any act  contrary   to the detriment  of the Border Drills Operation  will be shown the way out’’.   

The  north Central Border Drills sector 3,  Cordinator  has every reason to be happy. This is because   the District Heads of  all the  Border Communities  visited  in Kwara and Niger, which   form part of the  region,   have acknowledged  that the security  situation   in their Communities had improved  since  the Border Closure was announced last August bby President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressive Congress., APC . They were said to have  pledged  to assist the Coordinator and his officers involved in the national assignment achieve the mandate given to them  by the government.

Take for instance  Mahmud Ahmed Aliyu, the District Head of Wawa , a Border Community in Bargu local government  Area of Niger state, was said to  have assured that  he   would take advantage    of the long standing relationship   between   him and the  all the security agencies personnel in his domain  to do  ‘’all it takes  to assist  the sector 3 Border Drill   officers  in’’ achieving  the task at hand’’.

Saidu  Namaska,   the Emir of Kotangora, was said to have  Commended the Katsina  state born Nigerian President   for taking  the bold initiative  to close the borders  spread in four geo-political  regions  of the country   with Benin, Niger and the Central African country of Cameroun  believed to have taken a toll in the  economies of other member countries of the Economic   Community of West African States, ECOWAS.

 Chado Zakari,  Border Drills, sector 3, spokesperson  in a Statement  said the Coordinator   re-echoed the Comptroller General’s  decision    that the movement    of  all types  of vehicles or use of boats   for transportation  of Petroleum Products    across the Borders  and water ways  in the country remain in force, an indication that ‘’ anyone caught in the act in the region  will be jailed’’.

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