There is a steady drop in cases of kidnapping and banditry due to government’s border closure policy, Improving the security situation of the country as a result.
Minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, commenting on the closure in a speech delivered at the Seme border during the meeting of Exercise Swift Response, ESR, said a lot has been achieved through the decision.
According to Mohammed, as part of measures to secure Nigeria’s land and maritime borders, the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), in collaboration with the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) as well as the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and other security and intelligence agencies commenced a joint border security exercise, codenamed ‘EX-SWIFT RESPONSE’ in four geopolitical zones of the country, namely South South, South West, North Central and North West on the 20th August 2019.
The exercise is being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and is aimed at better securing our borders in order to strengthen our economy and address other trans-border security concerns.
Since the closure the exercise has recorded a number of seizures and arrests that would have had grave security consequences.
He said “So far, 296 illegal immigrants have been arrested.
“Also, some items seized include; 38,743-50kg bags of parboiled foreign rice; 514 vehicles; 1,012 drums filled with PMS; 5,400 Jerricans of vegetable oil; 346 motorcycles; 10, 553 Jerricans of PMS and 136 bags of NPK fertilizer used for making explosives. The estimated values of the apprehended items are about ₦3,500,000”, he said.
He noted that 95 per cent of illicit drugs and weapons that are being used for acts of terrorism and kidnapping in Nigeria today come in through our porous borders, adding that since this partial closure, the acts have been drastically reduced. “Our conclusion is that, the arms and ammunition these terrorists and criminal elements were using no longer gains access into the country.
In addition, the drugs which affect the health and the wellbeing of Nigerians have equally been reduced.” Mohammed said.
He said that overtime, Nigeria has been confronted with numerous trans-border economic and security challenges, ranging from banditry, kidnapping, smuggling, illegal migrants and proliferation of light weapons amongst others.
He stated that the preference for foreign goods, especially food items like rice has continuously impoverished local farmers and adversely affected domestic government policies supporting the agricultural sector to enhance food security.
He said it was very disturbing that some neighbouring countries circumvent the ECOWAS protocol on transit.
“For clarity, the ECOWAS protocol on transit demands that when a transit container berths at a seaport, the receiving country is mandated to escort same without tampering with the seal to the border of the destination country. Unfortunately, experience has shown that our neighbours do not comply with this protocol. Rather, they break the seals of containers at their ports and trans-load goods destined for Nigeria.” said the Minister.