Uche Usim, Abuja
Three weeks after the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) launched Exercise Swift Response in conjunction with military and paramilitary agencies to sanitize the nation’s land borders and boost security, the Federal government has recorded huge gains.
On Tuesday, 100 illegal migrants have been arrested while seizures so far include: 8,360-50kg bags of parboiled foreign rice, 122 bags of fertilizer, 77 vehicles, 781 drums filled with PMS as well as 16,371 empty 200 litres drums to be used for smuggling PMS, 1,491 packs of assorted drugs, 3 outboard 40HP Engines; 13 Cotonou boats, 185 drums of groundnut oil, 6 trucks, 114 motorcycles, among other items with 117 suspects.
The Spokesman of the Nigeria Customs Service, Joseph Attah, who made the disclosure said the exercise was part of the efforts to sustain the rigorous patrol along the national borderlines.
He revealed that the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd), Comptroller-General of Immigration, Mohammed Babandade and the Coordinator of the exercise, Brig Gen Emmanuel Aliyu Ndagi have commenced an on the spot assessment of the implementation and compliance of the ongoing border security drills.
He added that the intensive joint border patrol said the large numbers of seizures and arrests were from the four sectors of North West, North Central, South West, and South-South geopolitical zones.
“The exercise, which is being led by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the 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 is intended to better secure our borders, boost national economy and strengthen border security.
“Accordingly, we continue to appeal to the patriotic spirit of all Nigerians, especially members of the business community to see the exercise as an opportunity to further create a conducive environment for local businesses to thrive in the overall interest of national security and development”, Attah stated.
Exercise Swift Response was launched on August 20, with the aim of promoting inter-agency cooperation and increasing preparedness to address trans-border security challenges such as terrorism, armed banditry, smuggling, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, amongst others.
48 hours after it was launched, thousands of travelers, businessmen groaned over huge losses that sprang from what they said was a total closure of the border.
In various viral videos, they claimed they were stranded at various borders for close to 12 hours.
However, the Customs has maintained that the borders are not shut but heavily policed to ensure security operatives dealt decisively with those found flouting government’s laws.