By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigeria Customs Comptroller and Coordinator of the Joint Border Operations in North Central Zone, Sector 3, Ilorin, Kwara State, Compt Uba Garba last week ambarked on a tour of border communities in the state, while sensitizing them on the border closure by the Federal Government.
Areas he visited included; Alapa, Ilesha-Baruba, Yashkira, Chikanda and Okuta axis of Baruten Local Government area of Kwara State.
Recall that the Kwara State House of Assembly Speaker, Hon. Salihu Yakubu Danladi recently paid a courtesy visit on Compt Uba, lamenting the untold hardship and fuel scarcity that has been caused by the border closure.
Speaking at the Emir’s Palace of Yashkira, Compt. Mohammed Uba Garba acknowledged the critical role the traditional institutions and rulers can play especially in the areas of sensitization and enlightenment of their subjects, relevant stakeholders and society at large.
He said “I am visiting the palace to formally inform the Emir that I have been posted as the Coordinator Joint Border Operations Drill North central Zone, Sector 3 Ilorin Kwara State and to strengthen the co-existing cordial relationship between the command, Emirate and the stakeholders and as well solicit for greater cooperation in terms of information gathering/sharing and also to bridge the communication gaps”
The Coordinator pleaded that the enlightenment campaigns on Anti-smuggling activities should be intensified, as most of those who engage in smuggling never see it as a crime.
He further stated that part of the reason the Federal Government partially closed its borders is to encourage local farming, enhance good health, secure our National Borders and to enable the neighboring countries comply with the ECOWAS Protocol.
He reiterated that the present exercise was not to witch-hunt or obstructs any legal businesses of upright indigenes or communities but to encourage local farmers, control the inflow of arms and ammunition, illicit drugs and other prohibited goods in and out of the country.
He however, emphasized that synergy and collaboration amongst security agencies and traditional leaders cannot be overemphasized as no organization will work in isolation and succeed without the support of one another especially traditional leaders.
The Emir of Yashkira, Umar Sarki Sabikpasi II responded that the Nigeria Customs Service is almost the heart of the Nation when it comes to revenue generation and threw his weight behind border closure, saying that most of smuggling activities taking place in his jurisdiction is being perpetrated by non indigenes.
He pledged to do whatever it takes to support the Coordinator and his team to succeed by providing information for the ongoing exercise in order to achieve the aims, as smuggling is never a good thing to be encouraged.
He believed that the policy on border closure is for the healthy growth of Nigerian economy. He advised that traditional leaders should always be involved in decision making process as well.
He advocated that strict sanctions be given to economic saboteurs and the licensed fueling stations should be identified and those without license be closed.
Compt Uba proceeded to hold a town hall meeting with the youths, Elders, Local Government Authority, IPMAN and other critical stakeholders of Border communities of the local Government on the dangers of smuggling.