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.
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.