The Value News

”Border Closure With The Neighbouring Countries Of Benin Republic, Niger And Cameroon, Good For Nigeria” – Babadende

‘’Border Closure With The  Neighbouring Countries Of Benin, Niger And Cameroon Was Good For The Country’’- Babandede

By Lateef Adegbite

In spite of the  fact that President Muhammadu Buhari had reopened the 84 official borders  across the country with the neighbouring countries of Benin Republic, Niger and the Central African country of Camerron,  after about 18 months, if Mohammed Babandede, Comptroller General, Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, have his way  he would have extended it by another one year.

He has his reason.’’It is good  Nigeria muzzles up Benin and the other two neighbouring countries  a little bit  to show  that we are a country that care  about  its security and economy’’, he had said. He noted that the 18-month border closure was a clear indication that the country has spoken with one voice through action that had forced the neighbouring countries  into greater Cooperation  with Nigeria  in the implementation of  the Conomic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Trade Liberalisation Scheme, ETLS, Protocols.

He was said to have given a matching order to the NIS  and Border Patrol personnel to team up with the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, and other security agencies personnel, to tighten up security at the land border areas. He was said to have emphasized  the need ‘’ for better  Cooperation with Benin Republic and Niger, the two  neighbouring  West African   countries and Cameroon to tackle illegal entry and Criminal activities’’ in thee country.

According to him, the 18-month border closure  had made the three  neghbouring countries to Nigeria which were hard hit by the border closure to understand ‘’the political will of the Katsina state born Nigerian President’’ to bark and bite. Recall that prior to the border closure, for instance, the Cuba route , which is behind the  First  Bank and other banks at the Seme /Krake Joint border  , was only patrolled by the NIS , personnel, which opened the gate way for illegal immigrants to troop into the country.

 The Cupa  Border route may not have been  efficiently and effectively  manned by the NIS personnel, which  may have informed why Chedi  Wada, a Deputy Comptroller and the then acting Comptroller of Seme Command, had  embarked  on the embarkation of the of the waterside behind the Customs premises and the fencing of the Cupa route to stop the illegal movement of immigrants into the country.

Jibo: Comptroller, Seme Command

Mohammed Bello Jibo, who was deployed from Bauchi/Gombe Command , to the  Seme Command, had inherited the security projects and continued from  where his predecessor had stopped. Instead of only the NIS, policing the Cupa  border  route, he was said to have brought in all the other security agencies personnel at the border Community   to participate in the policing of the Border route, with the Customs as the lead agency.

 This may have informed  why the Seme  Command Customs Comptroller, and Heads of other security agencies, at the Joint  border  Community, took  a decision to have their officers at the Cupa border route.  Jibo, the Seme Command , Comptroller was said to drawn the roasters  and allocated the number of officers each agency would deploy to the  illegal border route and it is working out perfectly well going by the number of  arrest that had been  within the border closure.

. Informed  sources told The Value News that the  Seme Command has the highest number of  personnel deployed to the Cupa   the route , closely followed by NIS , while the Force, had the least number , only one officer.

Given the tightened up  security at the Cupa route by Comptroller Jibo, ever since he assumed duties at the Seme Command, the usual movement of  illegal immigrants into the country through the route  has stopped. Investigations by The Magazine  shows that given the large number of security  personnel at the illegal border route had  made it difficult for illegal immigrants, who may have  considered it necessary to pass the illegal route to enter into the country without proper  documentations or defined purpose of coming into the country by tipping oly  the NIS , personnel, to do so were forced to do a rethink  of bribing all the security agencies personnel, which  runs into hundreds of thousands of naira. This may have informed why they have opted to pass  through the official  entry  gate into the country.  

Note that there are over 1,499, illegal border routes, both land and the Creeks,  across the south west states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekititi, and Benin,  the north west states of Katsina, Jigawa, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, north east state, Adamawa and Cameroon, o, Borno , and Chad, Yobe and Niger as well as the north central states of Kwara, Kogi,  Benue and Niger, home state of  Ibrahim Babangida,  retired Army Generals and former military President  and AbdulSalami Abubakar, a former Head of State and Niger.  Some of the border routes are also found between the Cross river state area of Ikom , Bakasi and Cameroon.

The NIS Comptroller General had alluded to the positive sides of the border closure , across the country, when he said that within the period,  the NIS, Authorities  had received  reports that a lot of people who had entered the country illegaly had left ‘’the country   through the unlawful path’’, to avoid playing  into the hand of the security agencies  personnel at the land border routes.

 The NIS boss had said   that those  who  had fallen into the waiting hands of the NIS and other security agencies personnel, at the unlawful routes,  have been dragged to Court and prosecuted as a  deterrence to other illegal immigrants who might want to enter into the country without proper ECOWAS, documentation.  The Nigerian government  had said  that more than 1,400  illegal immigrants were arrested  across the country in the Border Drills  operation to secure the country’s maritime domain.

There are indications  that the Border Drills Operation  has since been transformed  into Nigeria’s  Joint Border  Patrol Team , JBPT, , being part of the tripartite  Operation  involving  the two West African countries, Benin and Niger. Prior to the border closure, with the neighbouring countries, to curb smuggling of foreign rice, Small and Light arms , into the country,  Nigeria, going by  Godwin Emefiele, led Central of Nigeria, CBN, records, was importing  close to  $4 billion worth of rice and maize annually due to the underdeveloped manufacturing industry.

The three countries, West African countries, were said to  have   reaffirmed their Commitment  to enhancing  economic integration following  the ‘’tensions  that  arose  from the border closure’’.    

Stephen Ubanna

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