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Arms proliferation:Customs, gendarme to the rescue at Seme Border

By Albert AKPOR

RECENT developments have once again reaffirmed the imperative by government to provide  adequate security for the Nigerian citizenry.  Curiously, whereas the Nigeria Police Force which primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of the teeming populace has continuously complained of inadequate logistics and wherewithal to effectively fight crimes, the largest and most sophisticated weapons are in the hands of the enemies of the state.

With the October 1, 2010 twin bomb blast at Abuja, the nation’s capital territory, which claimed lives and almost disrupted the 50th independence anniversary, it has become clear that much needed to be done in securing  life and property and of course, uphold the country’s territorial integrity.

The recent interception of large catchment of arms and ammunition, rocket launchers and other explosives devices, at the Tin Can Island Port Apapa, has equally made clear that providing maximum security for and safeguarding the Nigerian defenceless populace should transcend mere lips service.

Recently intercepted arms at the Lagos port.

Curiously, the sources of this arms proliferation and those behind the importation of the deadly items have remained a mystery.  With accusing fingers being constantly pointed at the nation’s ports and other border posts across the country, security agents at the Seme Border  are said to be presently on red alert to  forestall the use of the border for all illegal transactions.

For instance, information has it that the Customs Area Comptroller (CAC) of the Seme border, Mr. Kura Maitama has moved to resuscitate the hitherto joint security meeting between the Benin Republic Gendarme and the Nigerian Customs Service.

Sources said that a Crack and Roving Squad (CRS) has been put in place to regularly screen every truck that passes through the borders in line with Customs 100 percent destination inspection.

Though Vanguard Metro was told that the team has not yet intercepted any truck with arms and ammunition, it had, however, severally impounded trucks of ‘prohibitive goods’, including textiles worth  millions of naira.

The Command Public Relations Officer, Mr. Olotha Ernest, a Deputy Superintendent of Customs, (DSC) while reiterating the Command’s readiness to forestall small arms deals said: “Apart from the regular security meetings of all the security agencies operating at the borders, which was at the instance of the new CAC,  the Nigeria Customs has taken it upon itself to jointly organise discreet patrol of all the routes, including illegal ones to forestall incidence of arms being imported into the country through the borders.

The present  move has paid off because I can tell you that a  total of 28 seizures with duty paid value (DPV) of N20.46million were made within two weeks of the month of September alone. With the logistics provided by the Comptroller General, the Comptroller in charge of Seme Border, Mr. Kura  Maitama has intensified the patrol of the border through the establishment of roving and crack patrol teams.

The patrol teams now comb all the illegal routes in the bush and swamp areas to forestall incidence of arms importation.  As I speak with you we have not had any of such incidence but we have resolved that the 100 per cent destination inspection cannot be compromised.

Even our Benin Republic counterpart are happy with the recent development and have equally pledged their support.  Although we have in place all other security agencies including the SSS, NDLEA the Police the Customs is the one is charge of all the cargos that come into the country. and like I said, we are on top of the situation.


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