Border Drill: Nigeria Customs Service arrests 697 illegal migrants, seizes smuggled items valued at over N7.3 bn in seven months





 The Nigeria Customs Service has in the last seven months of border drill code-named ‘Exercise SWIFT’ arrested a total of 697 illegal migrants as well as the seizure of various smuggled items valued at over N7.3 billion.

Spokesman of the Service, Joseph Attah, disclosed in a statement that the seizures and arrests were done from the four sectors of the North-West, North-Central, South-West, and South-South geopolitical zones.

Giving a breakdown of the success recorded from the drill, Attah said: “As at 6th March 2020, 697 illegal migrants have been arrested, while seizures include 86,602-50kg bags of parboiled foreign rice; 695 bags of NPK fertilizer; 1,172 vehicles; 2,997 drums filled with PMS; 16,771 empty 200 litre Drums of PMS; 90 engine boats were made.

“Also seized are 68 drums of groundnut oil; 26 trucks (33,000 litres) of PMS; 14,604 Jerricans of PMS; 656 motorcycles; 15,089 Jerricans of PMS, vegetable oil; among other items. The estimated monetary value of the seizures is N7,350,818,657.70.”

He noted the exercise had helped to curtail the importation of drugs and proliferation of small arms and light weapons which usually fueled terrorism and other forms of criminality in the country.

Attah also mentioned that “Meanwhile, the agricultural sector has received a boost due to the restriction placed on the importation of rice and other prohibited food items.”

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

He recalls that “apart from the ongoing Tripartite Technical Committee meetings comprising Nigeria, Benin and Niger Republic; Ministers in charge of ECOWAS Affairs and Trade of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Togo met on the 15 February 2020 at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to assess the partial border closure and its impact on the sub-region.”

He added that while the country remains committed to the recommendations of the respective Committees, the priority remains to safeguard the nation’s borders from any activity that would pose threats to its interests and national security.

The border drill is coordinated under the Office of the National Security Adviser.