By Augustine Ehikioya
To check the rising insecurity in Nigeria, the Nigerian Ambassador to Benin Republic, Ambassador Tukur Buratai, has charged the heads of Nigeria’s border security personnel at the Nigeria / Benin border, Seme, not to allow arms to be smuggled into the country.
He also urged them to fight vigorously against human, drug traffickers and economic saboteurs spoiling the Nigerian economy.
The former Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff spoke on Tuesday at the Nigerian / Beninese border, Seme, during a meeting with heads of Nigeria’s border security personnel.
Security Watch Africa (SWA) monitored the meeting, which was particularly to inspect facilities at the border towards ameliorating the problems the security agencies are facing in carrying out their duties.
Speaking to the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) personnel at the border, he called on them not to hesitate in bringing to book all traffickers.
He said “You must work round the clock to ensure that there is no arms smuggled into our country, to continue to perpetrate the insecurity that we are facing now.
“Fight vigorously those people who are economic saboteurs, who want to smuggle by all means items that are contraband and to the detriment of our economy. We must fight those smugglers, those traffickers in humans and drugs.
Buratai went on: “We will not give room for such people to destroy our future, to destroy our youths as well as to destroy our economy”, he added.
“So, it is our collective responsibility. Everybody must put hands together to ensure that the insecurity in our country is contained to the barest minimum”, he stated.
He also promised to look into the challenges facing them so as to reduce their difficulties at the border post.
The Head of Nigeria’s immigration at the border, Comptroller of Immigration, B.O Zipamor said: “I assure you that the heads of border security agencies gathered here have a very strong synergy in carrying out our operations here. We intend to continue with this synergy that we have built over the period.
“And we will also take seriously to your observations and comments, particularly on border security”, he said.
On her part, the Nigeria’s Head of Customs at the border, Acting Customs Comptroller, F.N Ogar-Modey, said “It is a privilege to have you in our midst. I dont need to bore you with much, the Comptroller of Immigration has said it all.”
Other Nigerian officers at the border took turn to speak on the challenges they are facing.
Speaking on the challenges being faced at the border including the extra charges on goods by the Benin authorities, the Deputy Comptroller of Customs in-charge of ECOWAS Trade Bureau Scheme, J.F Ojo, said “For over two months now, most importers of goods have not been able to take their goods down to Nigeria.
“The initial complain was that the Benin authorities are asking for duty payment, which is quite against the Protocol. At the second time, they alleged that those goods coming from this subregion are not actually manufactured in those countries.
“But from our own end here, we have our statistics, our facts and figure that all the goods that have exited here on ECOWAS platform are those that enjoy the agreement”, he stated.
The Deputy Comptroller in-charge of Export at the border, U.M Abdulkadir said “The issues we are having now since the border was opened, the trade has been increasing right from January. We were having about 20 declarations in January, by June, it has risen to about 122. However, by July, the policy came from Republic of Benin that all goods transiting their country must pay duty, which is against the international transit code. As a result of that, we have a decline in trade”.
The Facility Manager of the border post, DSC G. Adebudo, said “One of the major challenges that we are having, the reason why the responsibilities have not been shared among who takes what and who does not take what, is the fact that the bill for the bilateral agreement has not been signed. And that has given us a lot of setback.
“The Nigeria and Benin security agencies at the joint border post and equally the Federal Ministries of Justice of both countries have held series of workshops and seminars concerning this and they came up with that bilateral agreement draft, which was actually adopted by the Nigerian government and passed over to Benin Republic”, he said.