The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed disclosed that the combined security agencies codenamed Ex-Swift Response to secure the country’s borders have recorded a number of seizures of foreign rice and other contraband items worth N3.2billion.
DAILY NIGERIAN reports that security agencies under the the Ex-Swift Response includes the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, 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 inaugurated on August 20.
The exercise is being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, and is aimed at better securing our borders in order to strengthen our economy and address other trans-border security concerns.
Speaking during an official visit to Seme Border on Monday, the said that 136 bags of NPK fertilizer used for making explosives were also arrested.
According to him, some items also seized include; 38,743-50kg bags of parboiled foreign rice; 514 vehicles; 1,012 drums filled with PMS and 5,400 Jerricans of vegetable oil.
He added that 346 motorcycles; 10, 553 Jerricans of PMS and 296 illegal immigrants had also been arrested.
“It is important to note that 95 percent of illicit drugs and weapons that are being used for acts of terrorism and kidnapping in Nigeria today come in through our porous borders.
“However, since this partial closure, the acts have been drastically reduced. Our conclusion is that, the arms and ammunition these terrorists and criminal elements were using no longer gains access into the country.
“In addition, the drugs which affect the health and the wellbeing of Nigerians have equally been reduced,” Mr Mohammed added.
On the economy, the minister stated that the partial closure has so far curbed the smuggling of foreign rice into the country, in addition to other prohibited items.
“Our series of interactions and engagements with Rice Miller Association of Nigeria since the commencement of this exercise, has shown that the border closure has enhanced more production and milling of Nigerian rice.
“Patronage of Nigerian rice has increased and farmers are expanding their farms as well as engaging more hands,” Mr Mohammed added.
The minister furthermore revealed that the border closure had impacted positively on revenue generation of the Federal Government, “which in turn will be used to build more infrastructures and develop critical sectors of the nation’s economy”.
“The border exercise has also curbed diversion of petroleum products from Nigeria to neighbouring countries,” the minster added.