Uche Usim, Abuja
The Nigeria Customs Service on Tuesday said it has made contraband seizures valued at N7,350,818,657 while arresting 697 illegal immigrants.
The feat springs from the ongoing border drill for the partial border closure, codenamed ‘Exercise SWIFT Response’, that entered its seventh month in March.
NCS spokesman Joseph Attah said in a statement that the operation has saved the country huge resources and enhanced national security.
“For instance, the importation of drugs and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons which usually fuel terrorism and other forms of criminality in the country have been considerably curtailed.
“Meanwhile, the agricultural sector has also received a boost due to the restriction placed on the importation of rice and other prohibited food items,” Attah said.
He added that 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 March 6, 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 N7,350,818,657.70,” he disclosed.
He noted that Nigeria remained committed to the ongoing diplomatic engagements to finding lasting solutions to the concerns that necessitated the partial border closure.
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 February 15 at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to assess the partial border closure and its impact on the sub-region. Overall, the government said it remains fully committed to the recommendations of the respective Committees.
It added that the priority remains to keep the borders safe from any inimical activity that would compromise the national interest and security.