Customs: Muhammed Takes The Campaign Against Illicit Trade To Benue and Kogi States

By Elizabeth Chukwuma

Between January and now, Muhammed Uba Garba, a former Comptroller of Seme Command and now north Central, Border Drills, acting Zonal Coordinator, with operational base at Illorin, Kwara state, has taken the Campaign  against illicit trade to  the nooks and corners of Kogi and Benue.

The Border Drills, acting Zonal Coordinator, and members of the Team , comprising  the  Customs, Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS,  Police, Army  and  the Department of State Security including officials of the National Security Agency, NIA, had started the sensitisation  Campaign last January from Kwara state  which took them  to the Border  Communities in  Baruten local government Area of Kwara and the Border Communities in Niger state.

h Note that the Baruten local government Area in Kwara state begins in Ilesha Baruba  , and terminated at  Chikanda , border Community which has a difficult terrain. The tour of the Kwara border Communities was said to have been followed with a tour of the border Communities  in Niger , home state of Ibrahim Babangida, a retired  Army General and a former military  President and  A bdulsalam Abubakar, another  retired Army General  and also a former Head of State.

The Customs Comptroller and his Team, appear to  have entered  the last phase of their working  tour of the border Communities in the states in the north Central geo-political region by relocating to Kogi and Benue states. Accompanied by the Heads  of the Army, Poplice, NIS, DSS and NIA, they were said to have   to visited the Border Drills   Checkpoints   at the Kogi-Minna axis,  Utukpa, Adikpo/ Kwande of Katsina Ala in the two states.

The working tour of the Border Drills officials to the Communities, a NIS , official , had said  had  exposed them , particular, the Customs personnel to   the high level of smuggling activities in most of these border Communities.  Insiders informed The Value News that Muhammed , appearance , at the kwande ,Katsina Ala, in  Benue state, has  sent a strong message to the Border Drills Operatives in the Area, to sit up, and ensure that  no illicit trade on cargoes enter  into the  country from Benin Republic or leaves Nigeria into the Benin Republic Side of the Border Communities.

Compt. Muhammed, Addressing The Officers At A Checkpoint In Benue State

The  NIS official who spoke to The Magazine  disclosed  that they were in Kogi and Benue states recently to assess the performance  of the security operatives at the Border Communities to ensure that the government policy was not Compromised.  The NIS, official disclosed that Border Drills acting Zonal Coordinator in the region,  has  a message for  all the  security operatives at the various checkpoints visited: To shun all forms of Compromise.  The Coordinator was said to have charged the officers to be ‘’disciplined , respect  the culture of the host border Communities in order  to win their support in the anti-smuggling war through information gathering.

The north central  Border Drills Coordinator , was said to have made it clear to the security operatives in all the check points    that smuggling, ilegal migration,  child trafficking , drugs trafficking , kidnapping and other forms of social and economic crimes , within the country’s maritime  borders must be tackled headlong. The officers may have read the handwriting on the wall when the acting Border Drills Zonal Coordinator, warned and advised them  never to engage on any  act  that that will undermine the country’s national security and economy because of the dire Consequences if caught.

The  Team  visit to the border Communities in the Kogi-Minna axis and Benue state, appears to have started yielding results as it has drastically reduced the influx of Benese and other West African nationals  into Nigeria to carry out carry out their  illicit trades.

Muhammed and his Team members were said to have followed  one of the patrol Teams on operation into the bush to see things for themselves. It was a rewarding  experience  as it gave them an insight into what the officers are facing  in the bush  while pursuing the smugglers , mostly the foreign par boiled rice and Cross-border vehicle smugglers.

Many believe that the  working tour of the Border Drills, acting Zonal Coordinator,  and his Team memberst to the  host border Communities in Kwara, Niger, Kogi and Benue states, may have  prepared the Team  to go back to the drawing board to re-design  their strategies in handling the smugglers and Illegal Immigrants in these border Communities in the region  and avoid loss of life.  The Heads of the Patrol Teams,  in Kwara and Niger states, who  were said to have got the message  of the acting  Border Zonal Coordinator, before now, were said to be making evidential  seizures, which had never been  made in the two states by Customs Operatives stationed at the border Communities Checkpoint before .

Muhammed,  had told Journalists,  at a Press Conference at Ilorin, last month   that the Border Drills had made evidential seizure of Contrabands  between last August and January 16, 2020  in the region. He cited the seizures  of  12 trailers load of foreign par-boiled rice,  52 different types  of fairly used vehicles and other brands  of fairly   used vehicles  for conveying   Contrabands into the country  including sscores of 25 litres each of  Jerry cans of petrol.

There are indications that  since the acting Border Drills Zonal Coordinator and his Team , embarked on the  sensitization Campaign of the Border Communities, in Kwara, Niger, Kogi and Benue  states, the Heads of the various patrol Teams  have stepped up their anti-smuggling  efforts  as they are now Competing among themsleves to make seizure of Contrabands and smuggled vehicles in order to win the ears of the Coordinator who believes in hard work.

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