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.
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.
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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