Buhari seeks effective border policing, as Seme Customs intercepts $6m fake dollars, others
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Seme Command, on Thursday intercepted fake $6m American dollars at the Gbaji area, Seme, Lagos state.
This is coming on the heels of President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday saying that Nigeria and her West African neighbours must work hard to police the borders against criminal elements.
Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Dera Nnadi told newsmen at a briefing that the dollar notes were discovered by operatives of the Command.
Nnadi also disclosed that among other items intercepted were Donkey Hides and Petroleum products.
On the anti-smuggling operations that led to the seizures, Nnadi said,
“i. In the last 13 days, the Command recorded milestones in its anti-smuggling operations. Some of the anti-smuggling landmarks by the Command include the seizure of fake $6m (Six Million) USD (equivalent of N2.763 Billion at exchange rate of N460.52 ) and the arrest of two suspects conveying the fake currency from Nigeria to the Republic of Benin. Two male suspects were arrested in connection with the crime and are in currently in our custody pending prosecution. The arrest was made at Gbaji checkpoint along the Seme corridor on the 31 of January, 2023.
“ii. Also on the 31 of January, 2023 at a about 0530 hours, Officer on patrol along Gbetrome base intercepted Six (6) Maltese International Passports with the same picture of a lady but bearing different names, Two (2) Senegalese International Passports , Three (3 ) Togolese International Passports, Four (4) Republic of Benin International Passports, One (1) Republic of Niger International Passport and Ten (10) International Driving License of these various countries from two male suspects who are also in our custody pending further investigation.
iii. Also arrested and seized 1300 by 30 liters jerry can of PMS equivalent 39,000 liters roughly over one fuel tanker of PMS with duty paid value of N9, 366,45 only. The products were seized from along the creeks”.
On the need to police the borders, Buhari who spoke at the State House, Abuja, while playing host to Dr Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General, World Customs Organization (WCO), who is in Nigeria for a Global Conference on Fragile Borders, said this was because of the porous nature of the borders.
He said that the fragile nature of entry points into various countries enhance terrorism, economic sabotage, and illicit flow of arms.
In a statement issued by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, Buhari who commended Mikuriya for his 4th visit to the country, said this current one was coming at a time Nigeria was preparing for general elections.
He said that he (Buhari) has made it a cardinal commitment to ensure each Nigerian is able to exercise their franchise by participating in a free and fair election, in true practice of our relatively nascent democracy.
Buhari said, “It is our objective to ensure this takes place in a peaceful and conducive atmosphere, despite all the usual excitement and gamesmanship that is known to occur during election campaigning.”
Theme of the conference is ‘Enabling Customs in Fragile and and Conflict Affected Situations,’ which the President said is of “critical importance for us as a country as we go to the polls, but equally important to most countries on the continent, and dare I say the world. In fact, it is quite frankly the singular most concerning sub-issue in our national security agenda. The fragility of our borders has been a major Achilles heel in our fight against terrorism, economic sabotage and illicit flow of small and light weapons.”
President Buhari said it gladdens his heart, that the WCO has dedicated an entire conference to the subject and theme, “thus recognizing not only its importance, but dedicating working sessions and brainstorming around it and inviting great thought leadership to dissect the issues and explore how nations in Africa can address this problem given our unique set of circumstances while also pursuing our joint and collective idea of an interconnected continent via trade and movement of goods and services.”
The Nigerian leader briefed the WCO Secretary General and his team on a number of efforts in combating the challenges of fragile borders, which include:
“Our National Security strategy 2019 which promotes close inter-agency cooperation and the National Counter-Terrorism strategy which mandates Nigeria Customs Service to support other Agencies of government on fighting terrorism;
“Support for the armed forces in launching operations to secure our borders;
“Demonstration of a strong political will to support Nigeria Customs Service, as a critical agency of state in the discharge of its security and revenue mandates;
“Approval of the Federal Executive Council for a new Customs Modernization Project that actively promotes the integration of technology into border operations;
And “the ongoing effort to review the Customs enabling law to strengthen the Nigeria Customs Service and provide stiffer sanctions against smuggling and other criminal acts.”
President Buhari hoped that the conference will seek to understand the operating environment that exists around countries who struggle with fragile borders, and see how comprehensive and exhaustive solutions can be proposed that deal with the multi-faceted nature of the issues.
Mikuriya described WCO as a 184-member worldwide organization, in which Nigeria plays an active and vibrant role.
He said Customs services must now go beyond mere revenue generation, and delve into security, as “without security at the borders, we cannot effectively collect revenue.”
Mikuriya lamented that Customs officials are often targets of terrorists and armed groups, “and so we need to have collaboration with other security agencies, share intelligence, and deploy technology.”