FG realizes N4bn from border closure

Twenty four trucks of premium motor spirit popularly known as petrol said to have been intercepted by men of the Ogun 1 Customs Command in conjunction with operatives of the Joint Border Operation may have stirred up speculations of official deceit and attempt to mislead Nigerians with fake news.

Meanwhile, Coordinator of the border drill code-named ‘‘Exercise Swift Response”, who is also the National Security Adviser, NSA, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Babagana Nonguno, retired, said about Four Billion Naira, N4 billion has been realized from seizures under the ongoing border closure since August 20, 2019.

The controversy on the number of seized petrol tankers is coming on the heels of reaction by an lkpokia youth leader resident in llase border community within Idiroko district that the claim by the Ogun 1 Command of the Nigeria Customs Service and operators of the joint border drill that four out of a total of 24 trucks of fuel seized at the Idiroko axis within the South West sector was incorrect.

The youth leader who spoke on condition of confidentiality said, “They (government operatives) have been arresting petrol tankers in the past two weeks. They even arrested two at the petrol station, one at Ajilete and one near Owode, the tankers were not crossing the border.

“All the tankers they arrested were taken to Idiroko; There is no other tanker of petrol in another place; They are all at Idiroko. It is not true that they have four tankers elsewhere, it is fake news”, he claimed.

The leadership of the Customs on Monday disclosed at Idiroko, the operational headquarters of Ogun 1 Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, during a press briefing to showcase the seizure of  24 trucks of petrol, that about N4 billion  has so far been realized from seizures of various items made within the period of the border drill.

Also the NCS Comptroller General, Col. Hameed Ali (retired) praised the border drill operatives for their swift responses to tackling every issue of smuggling since the exercise began, noting that activities of smugglers could cripple the national economy if left unchecked.

The customs boss who was represented by the Deputy Comptroller General in charge of Enforcement Investigation & Inspection, Austin Chidi, said the seizures were successfully done as a result of ongoing partial border closure across four geopolitical zones of the country and synergy among various services in the exercise.

Ali said the seized fuel will be auctioned, and further explained that although a total of 24 trucks of fuel were arrested, only 20 could be showcased while four trucks could not be brought to the venue of the briefing because of their ‘volatile nature’.

His words, “We have 20 here, but that is not all, in all they are 24, but for one reason and the other we kept 4 somewhere for safety, because of the volatile nature of the content we decide to keep it here.

“Honestly I am satisfied. You can even see it that the drill everybody is keying in and it’s because of this success and a few others. It shows desperation, and it shows that the drilling officers are on top of their game because when people start going to the extreme, it means that the man who is doing the job has actually filled it up.

“Without being told it’s tied to the partial border closure because you close the people of the known borders became very desperate to use unexpected means to move things. Without the synergy, it will be difficult to pack this kind of volatile product here.

“The environment alone is volatile to pick 5 bags of rice around Idiroko. I know how many officers that have died here because I served here and know they have burnt 5 officers in one hut. So we know how volatile this place is, so this success wouldn’t have been possible without the synergy.”

The NSA also took particular note of the quantum of seized rice within the period under review, which he estimated at about 40,000 bags. The NSA also lauded the resilience of operatives of the joint border operation, noting that security-wise, the exercise has produced a downwards trends in border-related criminalities.

He said, “If you look at it in terms of security there has been a downward trend in the transnational organised crimes, particularly smuggling and irregular migration and host of other things which you have seen right before you. In terms of economics you can see there is a big improvement, in terms of revenue generation and even other social-economic activities.

“The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria also commended the partial border closure by the federal government, the rice farmers have also commended it. Even people that are embarking on rural farming activities, especially in the poultry business, have also commended the partial border closure.

“For a long period of time now seizures, particularly in terms of poultry products, petroleum products, rice and other things like used clothing, were really been smuggled. If you look at it in monetary value it has total to over N4billion on the beginning of the border closure. In terms of 50kg parboiled rice seizure over 40,000.

“The aggregate in sum I will authoritatively say there is an improvement in the overall social-economic the well-being of the country and I think that is in our national interest and that serves as the overall objective of the border closure.”
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