Border Closure: Traditional ruler backs government’s decision

Tunde Akanbi, Ilorin


The Emir of Yashkira, in the Baruteen local government area of Kwara state, North Central Nigeria, Alhaji Umar Sariki Sabikpasi II, has thrown his weight behind border closure, stressing that most of the  smuggling activities taking place in his jurisdiction were being perpetrated by non- indigenes.

The Emir stated this in his palace when the Coordinator Joint Border Drill Operations, Comptroller Mohammed Uba Garba took his Campaign and sensitisation programmes to Border Communities in the state.

The monarch noted that the Nigeria Customs Service is almost the heart of the Nation when it comes to revenue generation in the country.

He further pledged to do whatever it takes to support the coordinator and his team to succeed by providing them with information on the ongoing exercise in order to achieve its aims and objectives, as “smuggling is never a good thing to be encouraged”.

Healthy Growth
The Traditional ruler disclosed that the policy on border closure is for the healthy growth of the Nigerian economy and advised that traditional leaders should always be involved in decision making process as well.

He also advocated that strict measures be meted out to economic saboteurs and the licensed fuelling stations should be identified and those without license be closed.

The Sector Coordinator also held a town hall meeting with the youths, Elders, Local Government Authority, IPMAN and other critical stakeholders of border communities of the local Government.

The Sector Coordinator took his time to sensitise/educate them on the merit and demerit of smuggling and that of partial border closure.

Irregular Migration
The customs boss added that the myriad of irregular migration and trans-border crimes such as smuggling of small arms and light weapons, human trafficking, drugs peddling and terrorism among others must be tackled head-on which according to him, informed the Federal Government to partially close its borders.

He pointed out that suspicious movement of empty Jerricans is a pre-condition for smuggling of petrol and cautioned those in that habit to desist warning that suspension of sales of petroleum within twenty (20) kilometres radius to border communities is a presidential directive and he will implement it to the latter.

Comptroller Uba disclosed that statistics released by Border Community Development Agency (BCDA) shows that  Nigeria is bordered by four (4) Countries in Twenty One (21) out of Thirty Six (36) States while  international boundaries exist in three Thousand (3,000) Communities, 105 local of which Baruten Local Governments is just one out of 105 Local Governments having international border.

Reduced Crime Rate
He further stated that it was obvious that the crime rate has reduced drastically since the commencement of the border closure.

Representatives of Local Government Chairman, Alhaji Tamba Ahmed and IPMAN (Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria) Kwara State Chapter Chairman, Alhaji  Okanlawon Olarewaju commended the Federal Government for taking this bold step by trying to rework the wrongs of the past administration.

He also appealed to the Nigeria Customs Service to review the stoppage of fuel supply to 20 kilometre radius to Border communities.

Clarifying on the numbers of petrol stations in the local Government, the IPMAN Chairman said that only 65 Companies are registered with the Association and some companies have more than 5 petrol stations.

Security Agencies
Comptroller Uba also met with residence security agencies manning the border post as well as operatives of Joint Border Operation Drill, deployed within the border axis.

He read the riot act to all the operatives, soliciting for their synergy and collaboration by sharing information to achieve the Federal Government aim of the exercise.

He warned that any officer found wanting or compromising will be made to face the full wrath of the law.

The Coordinator explained that all security operatives involved in this National Assignment are backed by the Customs and excise Management act (CEMA) Section 158, 147 and 167 which says 158- give power to patrol freely but warned against one man patrol, Section- 147 give power to search and raid any premises suspected to be housed with smuggling goods and the coordinator gave the go ahead to identify such warehouses for raid; while section 167 gives power to detain and effect seizures. He instructed for prompt reporting of any incident for immediate action.

Host Communities
He called on them to work together with the host communities, respect their culture in order to stamp out smuggling in the country, as it will boost production of locally produce goods and by extension generates more funds for the government, the people and also provide employment to our teaming population.

To this end, the coordinator urged the security agencies to work hand in gloves to achieve this aim, reminding them the implications of Section 177 of CEMA, two (2) years jail term for aiding and abetting of smuggling.

The coordinator also inspected large quantities of seized goods in Okuta, Ilesha-Baruba and Chikanda axis.

The tour of Sector Coordinator is expected to continue with the sensitisation programme to other communities in Kiama in Kwara; Wawa/ Babanna of Niger State and Ogoja/Adipo axis of Benue State.