The federal government makes between N5billion and N8 billion daily from the current closure of Nigeria’s land borders, the minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said. The money is being realised by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) through its anti-smuggling campaign, codenamed “Exercise Swift Response.”
In the same manner, President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the federal government was yet to fix a date for the reopening of the borders.
Mohammed further said that during the period under review, the country had recorded over 30 per cent increase in revenue since the NCS’ drill was introduced and drastically curtailed the inflow of arms and ammunition.
The minister stated this yesterday at North-West Sector Four Zone, Magama Jibia in Katsina State when he addressed stakeholders in the community in the federal government’s initiatives.
He said that bandits and terrorists were now finding it hard to procure arms and ammunition.
Mohammed maintained that the country had also recorded a reduction in cases of cattle rustling, kidnapping, armed banditry which were predominant in the North-West region, adding that “these nefarious acts have been significantly reduced.”
The minister said that the arms and ammunition being used by violent extremists and criminal elements no longer make their way into the country through the land borders.
He said this will also have a negative effect on the insurgency.
According to him, ‘’the main reason for embarking on the drill is to protect our country against transnational security concerns such as smuggling, proliferation of small arms and light weapons; irregular migration as well as terrorism and armed banditry, among a host of other concerns.
‘’This exercise is not targeted at any region in the country, neither is it designed to cripple businesses in any part of the country, as some conspiracy theorists have been insinuating. As a matter of fact, since the exercise commenced over three months ago, local businesses across the country have continued to thrive, as farmers and rice millers, in particular, are now having turnover on investments,’’ he said.
On the closure of filling station close in border communities, the minister said the drill had also curtailed smuggling of petroleum products out of Nigeria.
He said that the closure of filling stations along the border was a huge success.
‘’There are hundreds of filling stations along the borders. We counted many as we drove to the border this morning. They were set up purposely for smuggling. They do not sell the fuel consignment they receive to the public.
“Fifty per cent of them are owned by foreigners. Now that they are closed, we have recorded over 30 per cent drop in domestic fuel consumption.‘‘
He added that the north-west sector of the four sectors affected by the NCS drill, has recorded the highest success in terms of reduction of irregular migration.
“Nigeria will continue to engage with the neighbouring countries to ensure that all the concerns that led to “Exercise Swift Response” are fully addressed we call on all key stakeholders, including the media, to ensure that the desired objectives of this drill, that is, to advance a secured, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria, are fully accomplished,’‘ he added.
Mohammed was accompanied by the minister for state for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum and the minister for state for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba.
Some of the community’s stakeholders present during the inspection were the district head of Dadara, Usman Usman and the district head of Jibia, Rabe Rabiu.
No Date Yet On Reopening Of Borders – PMB
And two months into the closure of Nigeria’s land borders to curb the smuggling of rice, illegal arms movement and other crimes, President Buhari has said that no date had been fixed to reopen the borders.
Buhari said that he had not given any date for the reopening of the land border until the situation improves.
His position on the issue was contained in a statement issued yesterday by his spokesman, Garba Shehu.
While receiving a delegation of Katsina State Elders’ Forum at his country home in Daura, the president said that the country’s domestic fuel consumption had dropped by more than 30 per cent, following the closure of the land borders.
He commended the actions taken by the President of Niger Republic, Muhammadou Youssoufou, including the dismissal of officials and a ban on the use of the country as a dumping ground for Nigeria-bound smuggled goods.
Buhari noted that the measures taken by the president of Niger were helpful and supportive.
He acknowledged the hardship faced by Nigerians in border communities following the ban on the sale of fuel at stations 20 kilometres to the borders, a restriction that also saw to the closure of all fuel stations in Daura.
“Farmers must be protected. Dishonesty is deep rooted in the country. Otherwise the border closure would not have been warranted,‘‘ he said.
According to him, the restriction was a temporary measure as the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) needed to ascertain outlets involved in the real sale of products and those being used for smuggling.
President Buhari told the delegation that he intends forging ahead with poverty alleviation schemes and the agricultural and livestock reforms started by the administration in the first term, since the election was behind him and a government now in place.
He explained that the reforms, especially those relating to the settlement of livestock herders would take time to accomplish and assured the delegation that his deliberate choice of tested farmers as his past and current ministers of agriculture was informed by the need to carry his vision through.
Earlier in his remark, the representative of the chairman of the Elders’ Forum, Alhaji Aliyu Saulawa, commended Buhari for his achievements and Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State for curbing the menace of bandits, kidnappers and cattle rustlers.
He, however, drew a long list of requests which included a special intervention fund to assist victims of the attacks, the completion of the 10 megawatts wind power project in the state, setting up of a North-West Development Commission and RUGA farm settlements.
He said that the farm settlements were urgently needed.
The forum also made a case for infrastructural projects in the state as well as for keener federal government’s scrutiny of the benefits of social investment schemes.
President Buhari promised to look at the requests.
The President added that his constituency is the whole country and he was determined to be fair to all, including those that voted him into office and those who did not