A total of 622 suspected smugglers with goods reportedly worth N11,030,062,952.50 have been arrested by the Joint Task Force enforcing the partial closure of land borders within a year.

This was revealed in a press statement acknowledging one year of the Joint Military and Paramilitary Exercise on the closure codenamed ‘Exercise Swift Response’.

The Spokesman of the Nigeria Customs Service, Joseph Attah, revealed that the closure has also contributed to addressing the nation’s security concerns and economy.

The listed seized items, according to the statement include

  • 134,042 bags of parboiled foreign rice
  • 9,600 bags of NPK fertilizer
  • 1,791 vehicles
  • 3,565,461.9 litres of PMS
  • 5,007 drums filled with PMS
  • 68,436.3 Jerricans of PMS
  • 130 engine boats
  • 847 motorcycles
  • 17,212.6 Jerricans of vegetable oil
  • 813 packs of Tramadol
  • 274 bags of cannabis, among other items.

The exercise is being carried out in the North-West, North-Central, South-West, and South-South geopolitical zones with personnel pulled from the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), in collaboration with the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) as well as the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and other security and intelligence agencies is being coordinated from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

Attah described the exercise as one that is supportive of the government drive to actualise national self-sufficiency in food production particularly in areas of local rice cultivation and patronage.

According to him, rice farmers in the country are presently venturing into other areas of milling and marketing owing to the border closure success.

“One year into the ongoing joint border drill, codenamed ‘Exercise SWIFT RESPONSE ’, appreciable results have been recorded, particularly in the areas of security, economy, agriculture and inter-agency collaboration.

It will be recalled that the exercise, which commenced on 20th August 2019 involves the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), in collaboration with the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) as well as the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and other security and intelligence agencies, under the coordination of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

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“The present administration, through ONSA took a definitive step to put Nigeria on the path to food sufficiency, stem the flow of illicit arms into the country and improve national security through the Exercise.

The joint border security exercise has no doubt saved the country huge resources and enhanced national security.

For instance, the smuggling of drugs and proliferation of small arms and light weapons which are drivers to terrorism and other forms of criminalities in the country have been considerably curtailed.

“The exercise has also made it more difficult for terrorists and other criminals to acquire arms and ammunition, while criminal elements find it challenging to make their way into the country through the land and maritime borders.

This has thus contributed to the reduction in cases of transnational organized crimes.

“Exercise SWIFT RESPONSE has also boosted production of agricultural products, especially local rice, tomatoes, maize, poultry e.t.c and this has stimulated the growth of the agricultural sector/economy.

Today, Nigeria is fast attaining self-sufficiency in rice production, as the border drill has drastically reduced rice smuggling into the country and catalyzed rice production by farmers across the country, while millions of direct and indirect jobs have been created.

Huge amount in foreign exchange, that previously went into rice importation saved. The rice farmers in the country are now venturing beyond rice cultivation to milling, packaging and marketing.

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“Meanwhile, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) which is coordinating the exercise has continued to record large numbers of seizures and arrests from the 4 sectors of the North-West, North-Central, South-West, and South-South geopolitical zones.

“Nigeria remains committed to the ongoing diplomatic engagements to finding lasting solutions to the concerns that necessitated the partial border closure.

“While the priority, for now, remains to keep our borders safe from any inimical activity that would compromise our national interests and by extension our national security.

We appeal to Nigerians to continue their support for the ongoing efforts towards making the nation better secured and economically viable” Attah said.

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