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FG Intensifies Border Monitoring Against Smuggling 

 

 

The Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, Department of State Services, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have initiated intensified border monitoring to crack down on smugglers and individuals stockpiling food products across the country.

The special team set up by President Bola Tinubu to address food hoarding has increased surveillance at Nigeria’s land borders in Borno, Niger, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, and Jigawa states, referring to them as areas of concern.

“There is an ongoing inter-agency operation involving the Customs, DSS, EFCC and other agencies. They moved to grain markets, especially markets around northern Nigeria, and they were able to discover large-scale smuggling of grains outside of Nigeria and most of these grains are actually being round-tripped. So, there are cartels specialised in round-tripping food items across Nigerian land borders.

“What they do is that they buy grains, say from Jigawa, enter into Niger Republic with them, then bring them back and sell at higher prices and they use foreign currencies, especially the CFA, so that they can be able to buy more food and then take it back to these countries and then bring back and sell here. So, it is a sophisticated smuggling chain. So, they (security agencies) have been able to bust a number of them.

“Now, the Federal Government has beefed up security across the borders to stop smuggling in Borno, Niger, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, and Jigawa states because these are the major dark spots. Even yesterday (Thursday) at the President’s meeting with governors, the Niger State governor raised an alarm about these same cartels. That was why he recently announced the banning of food moving outside of his state”, said the source.

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According to the source, security agencies have discovered large stockpiles of stored food items, mainly by major companies claiming to produce animal feed and other products.

“One of the stores even contained about 50,000 tonnes of grains.

“A lot of the cartels have been busted in Kano, Borno and Katsina states. And in one grain market alone, five illegal Bureau De Change operators were discovered and arrested. They were exchanging CFAs and naira and were being used by these cartels to move money easily.

“The government is going through a process to ensure that harmful hoarding is stopped. Of course, storage is permitted…but hoarding that harms the economy and creates hardship and hunger is being stopped.”

Emphasizing the activities, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service, Mr Abdullahi Maiwada, mentioned that the service had adjusted its strategies and enhanced its monitoring systems at the borders.

He said, “Last week, the Comptroller-General of Customs held a meeting with all area comptrollers in the border areas and he has given marching orders to man these borders and ensure that there is no form of smuggling in their territories. It is emphatic that we are taking action.

“We have re-strategize. It will warrant our presence, the use of intelligence-driven operations, and our visibility in terms of increased patrol and non-kinetic approaches such as engagement.

“It is not all about using force or our physical arsenals to fight smuggling. We are also exploring engagement with the populace to tell them why they should not support smuggling. In the next few days, we will reveal further strategies we are taking.”

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