Latest Headlines



Porous borders are posing big problems for the nation

The revelation itself was not shocking considering what most Nigerians already know. But coming from the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, it ought to have commanded serious attention. “Our borders are largely unmanned. The penetrability of our vast unmanned land areas – the North-east and North-west zones, particularly Borno, Yobe, Sokoto, Zamfara, and Katsina States – with neighbouring countries such as Niger Republic and Chad among others has continued to be a key source of criminality and violent crimes in those parts of the country,” said Irabor who assessed the growing threats to our territorial integrity. “For instance, there are about 364 approved international border points in Nigeria with about 261 in the north-east and north-west regions. Out of this 261, only 124 are manned leaving the remaining 137 unmanned by security agencies.”

It has long been established that insurgents from Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and other terror networks who disturb the peace of Nigeria find ready adherents not only from within the country but also from the territories of our neighbours. Since these mercenaries have no stake in our country, they are ready to exert maximum collateral damage whenever they strike. But the challenge of porous borders is not restricted to the northern parts of the country where these insurgents operate almost freely. In the southwestern border areas, especially the Seme-Badagry-Idiroko axis, smuggling activities have continued unabated thereby posing serious threats to the nation’s economy. 
From the economic standpoint, the textile industry for instance is a major casualty of our porous borders as virtually all the leading local textile mills have been shut down. That is because their products could not compete with the imported but cheaply priced wax and print materials illegally brought into the country. According to most estimates, more than a million direct and indirect jobs have been lost to this menace. But the bigger problem is the contribution of these porous borders to the general insecurity that now plague the country. Today, there is hardly any criminal act and violence in Nigeria that could not be remotely traced to the relative ease with which armed gangs enter and exit through many of our borders.    

With mercenary activities directly linked to the violence being witnessed in many of the epicentres, especially in the Northwest, the federal government last year hinted of the possibility of floating a border security force. Nothing has been done in that direction. “The most dominant transnational security issue remains the threat of terrorism perpetrated by the Islamic State West Africa Province and Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs). These terrorist groups continue to exploit the porous border areas to disrupt the livelihoods of innocent citizens in their communities,” the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, said during the eighth session of the Cameroon-Nigeria Trans-Border Security Committee last November in Abuja.   

At about the same period, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) towards strengthening border security and stemming the tide of banditry and smuggling activities. As part of the agreement, the NAF was expected to make available, on request, two of its pilots to assist with operation of NCS Bell-427 helicopters and by so doing complement the manpower of NCS Air-Wing. Meanwhile, there is an urgent need for Nigeria to properly demarcate the nation’s borders through the setting up of a special agency within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). When the boundaries are clearly identified and delineated it would be a lot easier to monitor them.   

It is unacceptable that Nigeria’s borders remain the easiest crossing points in the world today. We hope the next administration will take the issue of border security more seriously.  

Related Articles