- Says N4bn worth of items seized
By Olawale Ajimotokan in Seme
The federal government has justified the closure of its land borders with its West African neighbours by insisting that terrorists and kidnappers were capitalising on the porous borders
to smuggle in arms and illicit drugs into the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this on Monday, while addressing a press conference at the Nigeria- Benin Republic border outpost of Seme.
He said that 95 percent of the illicit drugs and weapons that were being used for acts of terrorism and kidnapping in Nigeria arrived through its porous borders.
He said the ongoing Operation Swift Exercise and border closure effected by government had led to arrests and seizure of goods, which value is worth N4billion and that would have had grave security consequences.
Mohammed put the number of illegal immigrants that had been arrested at 296. He also revealed some items seized included; 38,743-50kg bags of parboiled foreign rice; 514 vehicles; 1,012 drums filled with PMS; 5,400 Jerricans of vegetable oil; 346 motorcycles; 10, 553 Jerricans of PMS and 136 bags of NPK fertilizer used for making explosives.
He, however, said that since this partial closure, the acts had drastically subsided.
“Our conclusion is that, the arms and ammunition these terrorists and criminal elements were using no longer gain access into the country. In addition, the drugs which affect the health and the wellbeing of Nigerians have equally been reduced.
“The partial closure has also 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. Furthermore, the border closure has impacted positively on revenue generation of the Federal Government which in turn will be used to build more infrastructure and develop critical sectors of the nation’s economy. The border exercise has also curbed diversion of petroleum products from Nigeria to neighbouring countries,” Mohammed said