By Shulammite ‘Foyeku
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the extension of Nigeria’s land border closures to January 31, 2020, according to an official of the Nigeria Customs Service.
Nigeria closed its land borders with neighbouring countries – Benin and Niger – on August 20 to curtail smuggling and proliferation of arms.
The Customs memo dated 1st November 2012 and titled “Re- Extension of Exercise Swift Response”, with reference number NCS/ENF/ABJ/221/S.45, was addressed to all the Sector Coordinators, Joint Border Operation Drill ( Exercise Swift Response), Sectors 1,2,3 and 4.
It was signed by Victor Dimka, the Comptroller (Enforcement), Customs Headquarters, Abuja, on behalf of the Deputy Comptroller General (Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection).
The memo, a copy of which was obtained by SHIPS & PORTS, reads in part: “I am directed to inform you that it is observed that despite the overwhelming success of the operation, particularly the security and economic benefits to the nation, a few strategic objectives are yet to be achieved.
“Against this background, Mr. President has approved an extension of the exercise to 31st January 2020.
“Consequently, you are required to convey the development to all personnel for their awareness and guidance.
”Meanwhile, allowances for personnel sustenance and fueling of vehicles for the period of extension will be paid as soon as possible.
“This is for your information and necessary action.”
National Public Relations Officer of Customs, Joseph Attah, a Deputy Comptroller of Customs, confirmed the authenticity of the memo.
“Security operation of this kind is usually in phases. The partial border closure will continue until the set objectives are achieved,” he told SHIPS & PORTS.
Meanwhile, the Director-General, Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi, has said that the closure of Nigeria’s land borders has helped to check the smuggling of arms into the country.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony of the executive intelligence management course of the National Institute for Security Studies (NISS) in Abuja, Bichi said the closure has also helped security agencies monitor the movement of people that are likely to undermine the security of the country.
“The recent closure of our borders attest to what we intend to achieve despite the criticism, the closure of our borders so far, have succeeded in checkmating not only smuggling of goods that are illegally brought into the country, even firearms and then checkmating the movement of people that are likely to undermine the security of this country,” Bichi said.