- We don’t need 1million checkpoints to stop smuggling – Nnadi
Security agencies operating along the Seme-Krake border route, especially on the Nigerian corridor from Agbara to Seme, have agreed an immediate reduction of checkpoints on the roads in a bid to facilitate cross-border trade.
This was one of the outcomes of a Joint Border Security meeting which held yesterday with heads of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigerian Army, among others in attendance.
It will be recalled that multiple checkpoints by these agencies have been described as a menace to cross-border trade even as some unscrupulous personnel abuse the checkpoints by converting them to extortion points.
Speaking with News Diet shortly after the meeting at Seme Border yesterday, the Area Controller of Seme Customs Command and Chairman of the Joint Border Security Management Team, Comptroller Dera Nnadi mni, noted that the Joint Border Security team comprises all the security agencies at the border including military and paramilitary agencies as well as the Chairman of Badagry Local Government.
His words: “Customs has set the example by collapsing most of its checkpoints and the other agencies have agreed to do same. One of the agencies, Nigerian Police, said they would get back to their leadership. However, the most important thing is that every agency was sincere in their appraisal of the issue and everyone admitted that something had to be done.”
“We also had a representative of the Nigerian Ambassador to Benin Republic, Olukayode Olugbenga Aluko at the meeting. He promised to take back the decisions reached at the meeting to the mission, Nigerians in Benin and the citizens of Benin Republic. The idea is to acquaint them with what Nigeria is doing with regards to trade facilitation along this corridor. So, it’s a win-win for everyone. Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) was also present at the meeting.”
Stressing that security agencies move to collapse checkpoints along the border route will be immediate, Nnadi maintained that the development wouldn’t expose the border to smugglers as the security agencies will deploy more intelligence mechanisms and partner with one another and with border communities to curb smuggling.
“There should be patrol bases because we all have vehicles and we can communicate. We don’t have to create one million checkpoints on the roads to stop smuggling. We are being proactive and innovative,” Comptroller Nnadi said.
Following the removal of fuel subsidy, the price of fuel in Nigeria has become a little more costly than across the border in Seme, therefore, the Customs boss expressed optimism that it would curb the illicit practice of fuel smuggling from Nigeria via the Seme border.
The Joint Border Security meeting which held yesterday was initially strategized in response to the fuel subsidy removal amid the purported strike action by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) bearing in mind the effects on the trade corridor.
At the meeting, the security agencies also agreed to sensitize the border communities on why government policy on fuel subsidy must be obeyed, even as they commended the government for the swift response which prevented the anticipated strike action after the threats from the NLC.
Our correspondent, however, counted twenty-two (22) checkpoints between Badagry roundabout and Seme border post shortly after the Joint Border Security meeting. Nine (9) of these checkpoints where mounted by Nigerian Police with N200 parted with by commercial drivers at every point whereas little or no checks were carried out.
Efforts to get a response from the representative of the Nigeria Police Force at the meeting was futile as he stated that he wasn’t authorized to speak to journalists at the event.