Border closure: Customs arrests 697 illegal migrants, seizes N7.3bn goods

Nigeria, Benin, Niger set up joint border patrol  

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Tuesday said it had arrested 697 illegal migrants and seized 86,602 bags of foreign parboiled rice among other contraband worth N7.3 billion in the ongoing border drill operation.

The Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, said the exercise had yielded positive results in the past seven months after the federal government’s decision to close its border against Benin Republic and other neighbouring countries in a move aimed at curtailing smuggling.

He said the border drill exercise had saved the country huge resources and enhanced national security.

“Seven months into the ongoing border drill for the partial border closure, codenamed ‘Exercise SWIFT Response’, the importation of drugs and proliferation of small arms and light weapons, which usually fuel terrorism and other forms of criminality in the country have been considerably curtailed,” Ali said in a statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Deputy Comptroller Joseph Attah.

Ali said the agricultural sector has also received a boost due to the restriction placed on the importation of rice and other prohibited food items.

He said, “The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), which is coordinating the exercise has continued to record large numbers of seizures and arrests from the four sectors of the North-West, North-Central, South-West, and South-South geopolitical zones. As at 6th March 2020, 697 illegal migrants have been arrested while seizures include 86,602-50kg bags of parboiled foreign rice; 695 bags of NPK fertilizer; 1,172 vehicles; 2,997 drums filled with PMS; 16,771 empty 200 litre Drums of PMS; 90 engine boats; 68 drums of groundnut oil; 26 trucks (33,000 litres) of PMS; 14,604 Jerricans of PMS; 656 motorcycles; 15,089 Jerricans of PMS, vegetable oil; among other items. The estimated monetary value of the seizures is N7.35 billion.

“Nonetheless, Nigeria remains committed to ongoing diplomatic engagements to finding lasting solutions to the concerns that necessitated the partial border closure. It would be recalled that apart from the ongoing Tripartite
Technical Committee meetings comprising Nigeria, Benin and Niger Republic; ministers in charge of ECOWAS Affairs and Trade of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Togo met on the 15 February 2020 at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to assess the partial border closure and its impact on the sub-region. Overall, the government is fully committed to the recommendations of the respective Committees.

“However, the priority remains to keep our borders safe from any inimical activity that would compromise our national interests and by extension our national security. We therefore thank all Nigerians, especially the business community for their continuous support.