The Federal Government on Thursday said it has arrested 239 illegal immigrants and impounded 34,221 bags of smuggled rice, 8,982 Jerry cans of fuel as well as 991 drums of fuel about to be exported illegally.
Mr. Joseph Attah, Deputy Controller of Customs and Spokesman of the Federal Government Strategic Communication Team, disclosed this at a sensitisation programme organised for officers of the National Orientation Agency, media practitioners and farmers’ associations in Owerri, Imo state.
According to him, all the impounded goods including 399 vehicles, life cartridges and hard drugs impounded were worth N2.5 billion.
The FG team, made up of joint forces of the Armed Forces, the Police, Customs and Immigrations, was set up to monitor the implementation of the partial closure of land borders by the Federal Government since August 20, 2019.
He said the borders were closed consequent upon the rampant flagrant abuse of officially established ECOWAS protocols by some neighbouring African countries as well as to secure, build and stimulate economic activities in the country.
He added that the border closure had come to stay until Nigeria’s neighbours show serious commitment to implementing all the protocols on the movement of goods and services within its borders.
He decried the situation where Nigeria has become a dumping ground for all types of foreign goods to the detriment of local industries and wondered why Nigerians have acquired such a taste for foreign goods, whether good or bad.
He said that no country should hide under the guise of Trade Liberisation Scheme (TLS) to bring in goods without 50 percent value addition, stressing that regrettably almost 90 percent of goods that come into Nigeria are foreign made.
“Flagrant abuse of established ECOWAS protocol is making our job difficult and we have raised this issue at various Customs fora with a number of MOUs written and signed to remedy the anomaly but all to no avail.
“Nigerians are industrious and business-inclined but regrettably, everything produced here is believed to be inferior to foreign products and we find it difficult to support our local farmers,” he said.
Attah said the aim of the programme is to sensitize stakeholders who will take the awareness down to the grassroots, stressing that NOA was very strategic in creating the needed awareness on the border closure.