Border Closure: More Troubles For North Central States Based Smugglers As Muhammed Says Crime rate Has Reduced Drastically In The region And The Country In General

By Stephen Ubanna

Barely two weeks  after  resumption  as acting Assistant Comptroller General, ACG, Customs,    and  Coordinator,  north central, Joint Border Drills, Muhammed Uba Garba,  appears  to have sent a signal to Cross-border smugglers in the region that it is no longer going to be business as usual.

As  a prelude to winning the anti-smuggling war in the region  through Information gathering  and sharing , he was said to have hit the ground by taking a tour of  Alapa, Ilesha Baruba, Yashkira, Chikanda and Okuta , the  Border Communities in the  Baruten local government area of Kwara state. He was said to have used the opportunity of the tour of the  Border Communities to pay a working visit to the traditional rulers in their respective jurisdiction.

Note that the Baruten local government begins  in Ilesha  Baruba and ends in Chikanda ,  a border town between Nigeria and Benin Republic. Customs personnel and other security agencies personnel may have found it difficult over the years  to access the Chikanda border Community  because of the bad terrain.

In spite of the Chkanda Community bad terrain, the Kwara state government     had  planned to establish  an International border  market in the town to promote trans –border trading. Note that one of  the traditional rulers  that was said to have been visited  by the Joint Border Drills sector 3 Coordinator was  Umar Sariki Sabikpasi II, the Emir of Yashkira, described as very outspoken .

The Border Drills Coordinator, was said to have told the Yashkira Emir , that  the synergy  and Collaboration  amongst the  the security agencies  and traditional Institutions was what the country needed now to suppress the smuggling activities in the country. He was said to have informed   the Emir that  the Border Drills Operation in the north central geo-political region comprising of Kwara, Niger, Kogi, Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa, cannot succeed without the support of the traditional institutions. The  Statement by the Coordinator  my have drawn out the Emir to speak out about the smuggling activities in his area of Juridiction , stressing that’’ it  was being perpetuated by non-indigenes’’.

That may have forced the Joint Border Drills Coordinator in –charge of the region  to go back to the drawing the board to review his strategies of tackling  the smugglers in order to make the difference.

Muhammed: Acting ACG And Border Drilsl Sector 3 Coordinator

. Prior to the tour of the Baruten local government Area Border Communities the, Coordinator had addressed   the security agencies personnel including Customs Operatives   at the Ilorin Alapa Checkpoint where he was said to have enjoined them to ensure  that they were  guided by the government  philosophy of taking the decision to close the borders with the neighboruring   countries of benin Republic ,Niger and the Central African country of Cameroon,  across the country to prove a point: that Nigeria cannot be turned into a dumping ground for third party  manufactured goods and Agricultural products.

 Take for instance, the Asian Country of Thailand produced par boiled rice and the  Malaysian  processed and semi-processed Vegetable Oil, , as well as other  goods and Pharmaceutical products  manufactured in China and India  which are dumped at Cotonou   Terminal, Benin and Bollore port, but smuggled into the Nigerian market through unapproved routes.The good news was that he enjoined them to carry the people along in their operations, particular, the Youths n order to achieve the desiredresults.

The  security agencies ,  including the Department of State Security, DSS, personnel, may have got the Cooordinator’s  message right as they quickly moved into action.         This is evident going by the recent seizure of a ‘’40’’ Container in which over 360  50Kg  bags of  par boiled rice were concealed in with some dutiable goods. The total duty Paid Value, DPV, of the Concealed  par boiled rice , according to valuation experts was  about N6million , which included  the duty , taxes and surcharges, that ought to have been paid on the Consignment. the acting ACG and his men were said to have acted on information to make the seizure.

It was the first major remarkable seizure that could be  made by the Joint Border Drills in the region between August and now. Recall that  under the lose watch of Aminu Dahiru, an ACG and former Coordinator of the Joint Border Drill in the region, Contrabands  and vehicles were said to have been smuggled into the country from Benin Republic through unapproved routes in the region.  There was  an instance where it was alleged that over 120 trucks entered   the region without proper documentation. This may have  encouraged  Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel  and the Customs Comptroller General the go to ejig the  Joint Border Drills  sectors 3 and 4, to give it a bite.

The north Central Border Drills Coordinator had alluded to the fact that  the Border Closure  has led to the drastic reduction of  crime rate in the Kwara a Border Communities and other parts of the country.  He had said that the era of, smuggling, banditry  and sacking of a whole Community , particular in the north, have been reduced to the barest minimum.

He  had Collaborated Ali, the Customs Comptroller General declaration that the daily revenue generation of the service has gone up from   the  usual   N4 billon  and  N5 billion prior to the Border Closure to between N5 billion and N7 billion, an indication that the neighbouring  countries had been short changing the country over the years.    

  President Muhammadu Buhari had banned the importation of foreign rice and vehicles into the country through the land Border on January 1, 2017. The policy was said to have been extended to the seaports in June 2018 as the Godwin Emefiele led Central Bank of Nigeria, NCN, denied the indigenous and Mullti-national rice and textile importers access to the  official Foreign Exchange,Forex, market, in order promote local rice promotion.

Note that the  Nigerian government trade policy  may not have been that of Benin Republic and the  other neighbouring West African countries including Cameroon, which allows the importation of  foreign parboiled rice and other prohibited  items banned by the government into their country.

The Fifteen Heads of States and Governments  of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, sub-region had signed and agreed on a Common External Tariff, CET for the region Trade Protocol.They were said to have also signed several Trade  agreements and Memorandum of Understandings, MoUs, on the implementation of the ECOWAS Trade protocol.

Investigations by The Value News shows that the Nigerian government had always respected the sub-regional economic bloc Trade protocol but the neighbouring  countries of Benin Republic and Niger, a land locked country  which uses Benin seaports for importation of its transit cargoes that had not respected the protocol including other trade agreements and MoUs, reached .

Many believe the biggest problem in ECOWAS subregion is Benin Republic which serve as a gateway to other ECOWAS member countries  to turn Nigeria as  dumping ground for foreign manufactured goods and agricultural products such as parboiled rice and processed Vegetable Oil.

While the Nigerian  government have been worried over the two West African countries of Benin Republic and Niger not respecting the ECOWAS  Trade protocol, the refusal of the Central African country of Cameroon to obey the various trade agreements  and MoUs signed with the  Nigerian government  to ensure that foreign manufactured goods , parboiled rice and vehicles imported through the seaports in their own country were not smuggled into the Nigerian market through unapproved  routes, did not help matters.

Former President Goodlluck Jonathan  was said to have done everything within his powers to support Benin Republic and Niger in the anti-smuggling war. He was said to have  donated seven anti-smuggling vehicles to Benin and eight to Niger, but that was how far he could go.

Security sources informed  The Value News that  the Beninese Customs Authorities never put the vehicles donated to them to use, an indication that they were note interested in supporting the Nigerian government in the anti-smuggling war.

They may have gotten it wrong as the Katsina state born Nigerian President was not ready to  take chances with Presidents Patrick Talon, Mohammad Issoofu and Paul Biya of  Benin, Niger and Cameroon  respectively, for allowing smugglers to use their countries  as  base to flood the Nigerian market with Contrabands. 

This may have informed why he gave approval  for the Babagana Munguno, a retired Major General and National Security Adviser, NSA, Coordinated Joint Border Drills, popular, Operation Swift Response across the country, which had resulted into the partial closure of the Borders with the neighbouring countries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *