The closure of Nigeria’s borders by federal government was undertaken to strengthen the nation’s security and protect its economic interests, the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali, has said.
Speaking during a meeting with border stakeholders, comprising freight forwarders and security agencies on Thursday at Seme, Mr Ali said the closure was not intended to hurt anyone but to protect the nations interests.
“Our interest is to make sure that our country is secure, the well-being of our people is ensured and our economy is secure.
“The step we have taken is in the interest of Nigeria, the step is not to hurt anybody but to protect our own interests as a nation,” he said.
Mr Ali was accompanied to the meeting by Nigeria’s Ambassador to Benin Republic, Kayode Oguntuase, Comptroller General Immigration, Mohammed Babandede and the Coordinator of Joint Border Security Exercise, E.A Ndagi, among others.
The NCS boss said a lot of things had gone wrong regarding compliance with transit of goods, adding that the border closure was to ensure that things were streamlined so that all stakeholders could be back to doing the right things.
“The idea is to ensure that the protocol that is involved in transit of goods and trade facilitation is adhered to so that we will all live and complement each other.
“The operation is undertaken to ensure that we get things back in perspective; we know the right thing, it is well written, we are all aware of it, we used to practise it, so we must go back to that.
Mr Ali said the freight forwarders were critical stakeholders at the borders and urged them to ensure compliance with the rules regarding transit of goods.
“We cannot do business without you but compliance is lacking between you and our officers. Most of the things we do, we don’t comply with rules and that’s why we end up with weapons, Tramadol that killed our children.
“We end up with ammunition that bandits use to kill our people; we don’t manufacture ammunition in this country, if we do it is only from one source and that source is well protected and documented.
“But today, we have seen many of this ammunition in Nigeria, where are they coming from.
“They have compromised with some of us and some of you and I say to our officers; that weapons, that bullets you facilitate in transiting into Nigeria, you don’t know who will take it.
“The bandits, the armed robbers had no choice, your mother, my children, your sisters might be shot by that weapon,” the customs boss said.
He called for support and cooperation of the stakeholders to ensure the nation is protected.
“We need your support, we need your cooperation and understanding, our national interest is over and above any issue,” he said.
The joint-border security exercise, code-named ‘Ex-Swift Response’, which was ordered by the federal government, commenced in August to secure Nigeria’s land and maritime borders.