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.
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..