Joseph Atah, spokesperson of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has revealed that it is difficult to achieve results in the fight against smuggling, because border community residents give information to smugglers on movement of security patrols.
The federal government shut land borders nationwide last month, in the bid to tackle banditry in the Northeast, check illegal arms trafficking and smuggling in the country.
However, Nigerians have decried the move, which has led to increase in prices of food commodities such as rice and chicken in the country.
The government said part of why it took the decision, is to boost local rice production and patronage of locally-produced commodities.
Atah, while answering questions on Television Continental’s morning show, “Your View”, via telephone on Wednesday, over the hardship the closure has brought on ordinary Nigerians, and why there are several checkpoints along the Seme border, lamented that residents of border communities aid smuggling activities.
But he also acknowledged that corrupt officers in the service are also not making the fight easy to win.
He said,” Like every other organisation, there are few bad eggs, which we are dealing with. You know the current Comptroller-General, dismissed and even handed officers for prosecution in recent time.
“What is happening to fellow Nigerians? Especially the border community dwellers, who collect handsets, smugglers buy handsets, telephones and give to them. They will buy machines for them to go round and monitor the movement of anti-smuggling operatives.
“They will call them and say look, officers are going to so so place now, when you are coming, don’t pass this road, pass another village, you will burst out on the highway.
“There are the kinds of situations we are facing and when we hear about these information, our own patrol officers will now rust to road, those are the people you see and count as additional check points.”
It has been reported that the border closure, coordinated from the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), was part of President Muhamadu Buhari’s directive to the military to take more decisive steps toward restoring peace to the country, particularly in states troubled by bandits.
The action is also meant to check illegal migration and influx of prohibited items into the country.