Nigeria has rolled out some of the gains recorded since the closure of its borders with neighboring countries, saying that the exercise is already producing desired results.
The Nigerian government had in August partially closed the country’s borders with neighboring countries as a proactive measure in checking cases of smuggling into the country.
Speaking at a sensitization program on Friday on the ongoing Border Drill Operation, Joseph Attah, spokesperson for the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), said the organization has seized no fewer than 1,072 vehicles from suspected smugglers, while trying to cross into the country through illegal routes.
Over 19,000 bags of foreign rice and 4,765 jerry cans of petrol were also seized, the spokesperson said, adding that two fuel tankers were also impounded.
Attah revealed that thousands of ammunition were seized, while 317 suspects were arrested during the period.
He said 131 bags of NPK fertilizers, which would have been used to make explosive devices, were seized, while 146 illegal immigrants without genuine travel documents were arrested.
He pointed out that the closure had helped in ensuring security for the citizens as well as improved the nation’s economy.
“Anytime you buy a foreign rice, you have empowered foreign farmers, while our farmers are suffering in spite of government interventions like Anchor Borrower, which is aimed at boosting rice production,” he said.
On revenue, Comptroller-General of Customs Hameed Ali said the organization generated 115 billion naira (318 million U.S. dollars) in September, the highest so far since the closure of the country’s borders.
Since the closure of the borders, the revenue being generated by the service was increasing on a daily basis, Ali said, adding that there was never a time NCS generated the revenue or much money like it realized in September.
Ali said the measures taken had compelled those who used to smuggle things into the country to go to the ports and pay necessary duties.
According to him, the aim is to ensure that the closure is sustained up till January 2020.
Ali said the main objective of the border closure was to ensure that neighboring countries complied with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocols on transit.
The customs boss added that the protocol on transit mandated customs in the neighboring countries to escort items coming to Nigeria to the borders so the importers would not evade payment of duties.
The closure of the borders had helped to reduce the incessant attacks by bandits, Ali said, noting that this measure had helped in curtailing the influx of arms and ammunition into the country.
According to him, the step taken by the joint border security operatives headed by NCS has also reduced the importation of some illicit drugs into the country.
The joint-border security exercise, code-named “Ex-Swift Response,” was ordered by the government and was aimed at securing Nigeria’s land and maritime borders.
The exercise commenced on Aug. 19 and was being jointly conducted by the customs, immigration, police and military personnel and coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser. Enditem