By Steve Oni, Ilorin
North Central Zone, Sector 3 of the Joint Border Drill Operations, Ilorin, Kwara state, has recorded 111 seizures of different items, including seizure of 1,212 bags of fertilizer which duty paid value was N16, 968,000.00.
Briefing journalists in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, the Sector 3 Coordinator, Ag. ACG Mohammed Uba Garba, said the fertilizer seizure was particularly significant because of its high explosive nature, adding: “Those who follow history very well know that the devastating fire outbreak at Beirut, Lebanon which killed over 100 people and destroyed an entire community was caused by ammonium nitrate, one of the compounds used in manufacturing fertilizer. Hence the fertilizer ban by the federal government because of its high explosive nature.”
Due to its high explosive nature, the federal government, Garba said, discouraged the importation of fertilizer because of some unscrupulous elements in the society who imported them not for agricultural purposes but to perpetrate evil acts, adding that for fertilizer to be brought into the country by anybody, clearance and approval is required from the office of the National Security Adviser.
Other seizures, according to the Coordinator, include 2, 794 bags of foreign rice, 114 cartons of HIV Drugs without NAFDAC Numbers, 55 units of various types of used vehicles, 118 bales of second hand clothing, 22 units of used tyres, 13 bags of foreign sugar,
608 drums of PMS, 469 jerry cans of 25 litres of AGO, 17 motorcycles, 81 cartons of foreign juice, 17 cartons of foreign natural water, 20 jerry cans of 25 litres of vegetable oil, 31 bags of local maize and 17 bags of local beans, with total Duty Paid Value of N 127,222,800.00. He also disclosed that Sector 3 has seized a total number of 23,449 bags of rice since the joint border operations.
The Coordinator announced the arrest of 13 suspects in connection with the seized contrabands. They were granted administrative bail. In addition, he disclosed the arrest of 15 Benin Republic nationals who entered the country through bush path, saying they had been repatriated.
Garba, who lamented that “smuggling is gradually becoming an industry in the country, a huge industry accepting all comers, attracting the greedy and absorbing the get-rich-quick criminals,” charged the youth not to allow themselves to be deceived by unscrupulous people to engage in smuggling activities that could land then in jail. Rather, he urged them to consider other areas such as agricultural sector and small and medium enterprises where there they can make legitimate earnings.
He noted that border closure has boosted the production of agricultural products, especially local rice, maize, tomatoes and poultry, among others, saying this has gone a long way in stimulating the growth of the nation’s economy. The springing up of Alhamsad in Kano, Anambra Rice Mill Limited, Jewes Rice Milling Factory in Taraba, Lake Rice jointly operated by Lagos and Kebbi States and tomatoes’ companies such as Sole Tomatoes Enterprises in Iwo, Osun state, FIIRO in Lagos and Sonia tomatoes Company in Jos were gains of border closure, he said.
Garba assured Nigerians that Sector 3 would do all it takes to ensure that “smuggling suffocates and in due course collapses”, adding, however, that “this can easily be achieved if host communities and local dwellers will stop seeing smuggling as a means of livelihood and equally stop conspiring or assisting the perpetrators of this heinous crime called smuggling”.
He said: “I want to appeal to people of border communities, most especially Bokoru, Alapa, Chikanda and Babanna, not to allow their towns to be used by smugglers. Community leaders in these areas should rise up to the challenge and cooperate with the officers of Sector 3 to checkmate the activities of those who are into illegal businesses, who use their environs as safe routes and hiding places.”
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