The Nigerian Ambassador to Benin Republic, Ambassador Kayode Oguntuase has stated the need for the countryâ€™s border control agencies to be more proactive, diligent, effective, watchful, alert and professional in discharging their duties in the light of the present economic and security challenges facing Nigeria.
Oguntuase gave the charge at a recent meeting with Southern/Western Nigeria border control agencies along the Nigeria/ Benin Republic borders at the Nigerian house in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
He said it has become expedient to have such a meeting so as to remove or greatly reduce some of the economic and security challenges Nigeria is presently facing partly due to the ineffectiveness.
The gathering, which had about nine border agencies as: The Nigeria Customs Services, The Nigeria immigration Services, The Department of State Security, The Nigerian Border Police, The military Reece 243 and 193, The Port Health, NDLEA, NAFDAC and the Nigeria Police border patrol in attendance, was themed: â€˜Enhancing Effective and Efficient Border Security and Management along the Nigeria/Benin Republic Borders.â€™
Among other things, the meeting was also aimed at facilitating the smooth movements of people, goods and services along the Nigeria/Benin Republic borders without compromising Nigeriaâ€™s security and national interest.
In the words of the ambassador: â€œIt is pertinent to note that there are lots of security threats and opportunities arising from international trade growth, globalisation, regional integration and global migration. Indeed, the Nigerian/Benin borders are not immune to these economic and security threats which have continued to manifest itself along these borders.â€
He added that reported cases of extortions at the borders are alarming and even that primary school pupils from Nigeria going for excursion to Benin Republic made these complaints when the said they (border hoodlums) collected money from them even with their complete documents.
The ambassador who was very sad at such a development said: â€œthose who are condoning such, please for the interest of your jobs, stop because if you think people do not know, they do; sometimes, they even give us identity, it is as bad as that. What impression do you want to give those primary school pupils?â€
Other areas of concern include too many illegal checkpoints mounted en route Nigeria/ Benin Republic, smuggling activities, proliferation of small arms and light weapons into Nigeria, human trafficking, illicit drug trafficking, piracy, illegal bunkering and oil theft, illegal immigration and International terrorism, undue delay in clearing of documents, goods and people, lack of recognition and respect for embassy documents, non-enforcement of the government executive order and non- compliance with the ECOWAS protocol on trade liberalisation scheme
â€œSpecifically on Mile 2 to Seme alone, there are about 37 illegal checkpoints, also between Seme and Badagry, there are about 5 illegal checkpoints and at each of these checkpoints illegal monies are collected. Sometimes I go in my official car, I donâ€™t go through that but people, ordinary people are the ones who have called us on this kind of information, therefore, we want all the border agencies to restrict all their activities to government designated checkpoints please.
â€œDespite government stern and clear directives and stance on the land border ban on importation of Rice, Vehicles and other prohibited items, some unpatriotic elements still aid, abet and facilitate the illegal movement of the banned goods and items into Nigeria.â€
In the light of these, he stated that the border agencies cannot afford to be negligent in their duties because Benin Republic shares many strategic locations with Nigeria.
â€œThe strategic importance of Benin Republic to the existential realities of Nigeria cannot be over emphasised. Benin sharing a 778 kilometres land and sea borders with six states in Nigeria namely: Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Niger and Kebbi, is of high geo- strategic importance to the political, economic and cultural survival of Nigeria.