By Innocent Orok
Seven months into the ongoing border drill for the partial border closure, codenamed ‘Exercise SWIFT Response’, the exercise has continued to yield positive results.
The policy has saved the country huge resources and enhanced national security. For instance, the importation of drugs and proliferation of small arms and light weapons which usually fuel terrorism and other forms of criminality in the country have been considerably curtailed. While the agricultural sector has also received a boost due to the restriction placed on the importation of rice and other prohibited food items.
This was contained in a statement issued by the National Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service, Deputy Comptroller Joseph Attah, who also doubles as the PRO of the “Operation Swift Response” yesterday.
Attah said 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.
According to the release, as at 6th March 2020, a total of 697 illegal migrants have been arrested, while seizures made within the same period includes 86,602 (50kg) bags of parboiled foreign rice; 695 bags of NPK fertilizer; 1,172 vehicles; 2,997 drums filled with PMS and 16,771 empty 200 litre Drums of PMS.
Others are 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 put at N7,350,818,657.70.
The statement further said ” Nonetheless, Nigeria remains committed to ongoing diplomatic engagements to finding lasting solutions to the concerns that necessitated the partial border closure.
“It would be recalled that 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 the 15th of February 2020 at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to assess the partial border closure and its impact on the sub-region.
Overall, the government is fully committed to the recommendations of the respective Committees.
“However, the priority remains to keep our borders safe from any inimical activity that would compromise our national interests and by extension our national security. We therefore thank all Nigerians, especially the business community for their continuous support.”