BY GRACE ANYANWU, ABUJA – The Federal Government says the ongoing border drill in four of the country’s six geo-political zones has drastically reduced incidents of cattle rustling, kidnapping, armed banditry and other forms of insecurity in the North-West zone.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who stated this at the Customs Border Station in Magama Jibia, Katsina State, on Monday when he led a Federal Government delegation on a visit to Sector Four (North-West) of the Border Drill, code-named ‘Exercise Swift Response‘, noted that the drill has drastically curtailed the inflow of arms and ammunition into Nigeria.
Mohammed noted that bandits and terrorists are finding it hard to procure arms and ammunition, hence the recorded reduction in cases of cattle rustling, kidnapping and armed banditry, which were predominant in the North-West Region.
A statement by the Special Assistant To The President (Media), in the office of the Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi quoted Mohammed as saying the arms and ammunition being used by violent extremists and criminal elements no longer make their way into the country through the land borders.
The Minister also disclosed that the smuggling of petroleum products, which has also been prominent through the borders in the North-West, has been curtailed due to the closure of filling stations along the border.
According to Mohammed; “There are hundreds of filling stations along the border. We counted many as we drove to the border this morning. They were set up purposely for smuggling. They don’t sell the fuel consignment they receive to the public, plus 50% of them are owned by foreigners. Now that they are closed, we have recorded over 30% reduction in domestic fuel consumption.”
He said the Customs, which used to record about N4.5 billion as revenue daily, is now posting between N5 billion and N8 billion daily.
Mohammed said the North-West Sector, out of the four sectors affected by the drill, has recorded the highest success in terms of reduction of illegal migration as a result of the closure of the borders.
The Information and Culture Minister clarified that the exercise is not targeted at any region in the country, neither is it designed to cripple businesses in any part of the country as being insinuated in some quarters.
Mohammed further explained that contrary, since the commencement of the exercise, local businesses across the country have continued to thrive as farmers and rice millers in particular are now having a high turnover on their investments.
‘Exercise Swift Response’ was launched on August 20, 2019 as part of measures to secure Nigeria’s land and maritime borders, and comprises the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN), as well as the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and other security and intelligence agencies and it is coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser.
The Federal Government delegation also include the Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clement Agba; Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs Miriam Katagum; Deputy Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Mr Augustine Chidi; and Deputy Comptroller General of Immigration.