Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has decried the attitude of die-hard smugglers still operating in the Northcentral, despite the border closure.
It said smugglers were having a field day in border communities in the Northcentral states.
NCS Coordinator for Joint Border Drill Operations, code-named: Swift Response, Comptroller Mohammed Garba, spoke at a three-day sensitisation programme with traditional rulers and stakeholders in border communities on Kaiama-Jebba-Mokwa-Wawa-Babanna-Kotangora axis of Kwara and Niger states.
The border drill operation covers Northcentral states of Kwara, Niger, Kogi and Benue.
At the palace of the district head in Babanna community, the coordinator said perpetrators and economic saboteurs had devised new means of using bush-paths, motorbikes and camels to carry out their nefarious activities.
The coordinator, who frowned at the activities of the smugglers, stressed that there would be no retreat on the fight against smuggling in any disguise.
He advised the community, district heads and the public to embrace legitimate means of livelihood and avoid smuggling in all ramifications.
Garba said Customs men in the operations were battle-ready to puncture the new techniques initiated by economic saboteurs to perpetuate their illicit acts.
The coordinator said the movement of all types of vehicle and boat used for transporting petroleum products across the land borders and waterways within a 20-kilometre radius had been restricted.
He added that anyone caught violating the order would be prosecuted and jailed.
Also, the district head of Babanna community, Alhaji Isah Yerima, averred that the security situation in the community had improved since the border closure.
He pledged to assist security agencies to work for the success of the national assignment.
The district head promised to enlighten the residents on the benefits of border closure and dangers of smuggling.
At the Emir Palace in Wawa, Garba said: “We cannot continue to fold our arms and allow every Tom, Dick and Harry to enter our country. The uncontrolled migration hinders the government from having proper statistics and data for national development.
“Trans-border crimes, such as smuggling of small arms and light weapons, human trafficking, drugs trafficking and terrorism are among other security challenges that have to be checked. During this time, the crime rate became unbearable; drugs were becoming a way of life among our teaming youths. That might be among the reasons that informed the Federal Government to partially close its border.”
The Dodo of Wawa, Dr. Mahmud Ahmed Aliyu, told the NCS controller that Federal Government’s aim at partially closing the border was to boost the economy.
He promised to support the Federal Government in achieving the goal.
The community leader said the Wawa Emirate Council had a long standing cordial relationship with all the security agencies in his domain.
At the palace of Emir of Kotangora, the coordinator explained that his visit was meant to strengthen existing cordial relationship as well as solicit greater cooperation with the residents.
He said the border closure was meant to encourage local farmers, control the inflow of arms and ammunition, stop illicit drugs and other prohibited goods in and out of the country.
The Emir of Kotangro, Alhaji Saidu Namaska, hailed the Federal Government for partially closing the borders.
He applauded the coordinator for choosing traditional institutions as his focal point, saying they were the real grassroots mobilisers for his sensitisation programme.