The Value News

Border Drills: Job For The Boys

By Suleiman Umaru

 Those whose who think that the Border  Drills which was master minded by President Muhammadu Buhari, to check mate the activities of Cross-Border foreign par boiled rice  and vehicle smugglers may have to do  a rethink.

 This is because the Border Drills security operatives  appears  to have turned it  as a money making venture . From  the  border  areas  in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo,Osun, Ekiti, Cross River, Akwa Ibom,  Adamawa, Niger, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Zamfara, Sokoto,  Kebbi  to Adamawa, the story is the same:  security operatives making cheap money from vehicle smugglers. 

 Which Virtually all the seven states in the north west have common borders with the French speaking country of Niger. Including Ogun in the south west geo-political  region. Note  that importers , from  Niger, a land locked country  use the Benin Terminal, Cotonou and Bollore port , in Republic of Benin to take  delivery of their imported cargoes, , particular, vehicles and foreign par boiled rice, which find their way into the Nigerian market.

 Abubakar  Aliyu, a Lagos based business man , who may have had much about the activities of the Border Drills security Opeatives in an undercover investigation had gone to Seme, where he  was said to have mixed up with the officers. He was said to have discussed freely with the officers  and  watched how they conduct their  business  at their Gbaji location. 

An aggrieved Aliyu is not happy  that the  Katsina state born Nigerian President  has created the impression that it has closed the borders with the neighbouring countries of the Republic of Benin, Niger, Tchad and the Central African country of Cameroon, using  the Border Drills, to man it. The Border Drills comprises of the Customs, as the lead agency, Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, Military, Police, Department of State Security, DSS, and Directorate of Military Intelligence, DMI, to man the borders , to ensure that  no Consignment enters or leaves the country

 Describing the Border Drills as a job for the boys, he disclosed  that  the security Operatives  manning the border routes   in the guise of  carrying  out the national assignment   had seen it as an opportunity  to make cheap money. According to him  nothing has really changed at the border  locations  in the  states  as  fairly used vehicles, popular, Tokunbo, and foreign par boiled rice are still been smuggled into the country. He stopped short as saying  at saying  that it is still  as usual.

‘’If Buhari did not know , he should know  that the borders with the neighbouring countries of Republic of Benin, Niger, Tchad and the Central African country of Cameroon   are not closed ooo’’, he had said. Aliyu who claimed to have visied Seme border  recently  lamented  that the Border Drills personel have turned the national assignment as an opportunity to make quick money. Recall  that the Katsina state born Nigerian President  had  banned the importation of foreign par boiled rice and vehicles , through the land borders on January 1, 2017.

Hameed Ali: Comptroller General, NCS

The cabal in the NCS, may have used Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel, and the Comptroller General who has the ears of the President  to  perfect their plot in setting up adhoc  Task Force  compliment the efforts of the anti-smugglings t the borders and the Federal Operations Units, FOUs, across the country.  They may have started testing the ground with some adhoc  Teams, which were later replaced by the  Comptroller General task Force, which has  as its last National Coordinator, Abdullahi Kerewa, a Deputy Comptroller and acting Comptroller, Kaduna/Katsina Command.

The Cabal may have seen that  the country’s anti-smuggling operations in  the hands of one officer, who reports directly to Ali, the Comptroller General would make him too powerful.  It was not surprising why Kerewa was removed and redeployed to Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, and subsequently seconded  to the Border Drills, to Head the Operations Unit, south west, before his latest redeployment to Kaduna/Katsina Command as acting Comptroller.

Given the fact  that Seme border has only one route  to enter the Lagos market from the Gbaji bridge, not many  had expected the high level of vehicle smuggling  activities happening in the northern part of the country  to happen at the Seme aaxis. Many believe that the vehicle smugglers may have relocated to the Seme axis  to carry out their nefarious to prove a point that the large concentration of the  Border Drills security Operatives  at Gbaji check point was meaningless as the officers were said to have been corrupted like their Colleagues in the north.

Aliyu , in his undercover  findings  was said to have discovered  at the  borders visited  across the country including Seme that  if you have your money you can smuggle any type of car into the country. Given an insider information, he disclosed that exotic tokunbo vehicles, attract between  N50,000.00 and N100,000.00which are unreceipted.  ‘’Those Border Drills security Operatives at the border locations across the country are really making huge money daily’’, he had said.

The  Katsina state may have  blocked his ear to the Complaints against the Border Drills security Operatives, the President  has approved  the extension  of the exercise  which ought to have elapsed  by December 31, 2019, to January 31, 20020. This is an indication of his tacit support to their Operation which  was said to have achieved an ‘’overwhelming success’’.

Lat October, the Customs, helmsman,  revealed that the country has  saved N 1.4 million since the Border Drills exercise  started last August, noting that over 300 smugglers were also arrested. Mohammadu Babadende, Comptroller General , NIS,  have gladdened the heart of the NSA, who is in-charge of the Border Drills exercise when  said that  146 illegal migrants  were arrested.

Perhaps, what may have  made Ali, the Customs Comptroller General to believe that the Border Drills exercise  has yielded the desired results  was the drop in the nation’s consumption of  petroleum products. It was said to have dropped by 10.2 million litres, an indication that Nigeria was  the major source of cheap petroleum products for other countries in the West and Central African sb-region.

Note that in granting the approval  for the extension of the exercise based on the request of Ali, the Customs Comptroller General, he disclosed that ‘’there are still  few strategic  objectives  that are yet to be achieved  which are to the benefits of the economy and the country’s security architecture.

DImka: Comptroller Enforcement, Informed Officers About Border Drills Extension

Victor Dimka, a former Comptroller  Seme  Command and now Comptroller Enforcement,  at the Customs Headquarter  may have gladdened the heart of the Border Drills Officers  when he assured them  that  all their ‘’allowances for personal sustenance  and fueling of  Operational vehicles  for the period of the extension of the exercise  will be paid  as soon as possible’’.

There are indications that the budgetary allocation  for the  for the settlement of the Border Drills  security operatives  was not accommodated in the 2019 budget  but only in the 20120 budget. Insiders told the Magazine NSA and Ali , the Customs Comptroller General did not want to  return  the officers back to their respective agencies without settling their allowances to avoid creating bad blood.

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September 2021

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