Despite AfCFTA take-off, rice, cars remain banned through land borders



—-as border patrol team seizes prohibited items worth N12.538 billions

Segun Oladipupo.  |
Despite the take-off of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) on January 1, 2021,  parboiled rice, frozen chicken, illicit drugs, among others remain prohibited, Nigeria Customs Service has declared.

In a statement on Thursday, National Public Relations Officer of Customs, Deputy Comptroller, Joseph Attah stated that the items under prohibition still remain banned.

Attah added that in a renewed effort to combat smuggling, irregular migration and other transnational organised crimes along the nation’s border coupled with the gradual reopening of the borders, Operation SWIFT RESPONSE (OSR) which was launched in August 2019 and coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) has transformed into Nigeria’s Joint Border Patrol Team (JBPT) as part of a Tripartite Operation, comprising Benin, Niger and Nigeria.

“With the reopening of the borders for commercial activities, items such as parboiled rice, frozen chicken, illicit drugs, among others remain prohibited.

“The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd) in a goodwill message to the transformed Operation SWIFT RESPONSE, applauded the unflinching commitment of the security operatives to the national assignment, and urged them not to rest on their oars.

“The NSA further stated that the joint patrols would be adequately administered and charged the operatives to display a high level of professionalism during the operation with their neighbouring counterparts. This was because Nigeria has a widely acclaimed track record of security operations not just at the ECOWAS level, but the world at large.

“Meanwhile, a year and four months into the operation, the smuggling of illicit drugs and proliferation of small arms and light weapons used to exacerbate Violent Extremism and Terrorism in some parts of the country have been significantly curbed. This is in addition to the quantum of seizures of prohibited items and numbers of arrested irregular migrants as the operation progresses.

“As at 5 January 2021;1,401 irregular migrants had been arrested while the total seizures were; 159,506.7-(50kg) bags of parboiled foreignrice; 10,447 bags of NPK fertilizer used for making explosives; 1,974 Vehicles; 895 motorcycles;
18,690.3 Jerricans of Vegetable Oil, among other seized items. The total monetary value of the apprehended items is aboutTwelve Billion, Five Hundred and ThirtyEightMillion, Three Hundred and Thirty Three Thousand,Five Hundred andForty Five NairaFifty Kobo(₦12,538,333,545.50).

“The priority remains to keep our borders safe from any inimical activity that will compromise our national interests,” the statement stated

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