The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has said many of Nigeria’s borders are artificial and difficult to manage.
Mr Aregbesola spoke in response to reports of infiltration by armed herders from neighbouring countries and the activities of smugglers despite the closure of the borders due to the coronavirus pandemic.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how smugglers still move in and out of Nigeria despite the closure of the land borders.
An investigation published in February showed that smugglers are still able to engage in their illicit transborder trade relying compromised customs and immigration officers who take bribes.
Speaking after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, Mr Aregbesola spoke on the challenges of manning Nigeria’s borders and on the National Border Management Strategy
“Let me be clear and remind us of the fact that our boundaries are artificial. I know of a particular village in Ogun where the boundary between Nigeria and Benin Republic cuts the palace of the traditional ruler of that town into two.
“When people mention porous border, I ask myself do they really understand what they are talking about. They are talking about boundaries that are very artificial in some cases and therefore very difficult to police outside police engagement strategy,” he said.
According to the interior minister, there is nothing known to law that can prevent cross border movements because some communities are located in two different countries through the artificial nature of the boundary.
“So we are increasing our engagement with the community. We are going to involve a robust engagement strategy involving communities critical stakeholders, leaders in identifying elements that are dangerous to the security of the country on either side of the border.”
He also announced that as the federal government is increasing its competence and deployment of technology at the air border, it is doing the same at the land border.
“As I am talking, we have activated 14 forward operation basis at the land border. Yes what we need to do is about far more but four forward operation bases with arm patrol are already in operation, I have commissioned some. We are not limiting it to that. We are engaged in a contractual deal with Huawei to develop a robust e-land border management system that will deal with close to half of border surveillance which will make possible for us in Abuja to know at the press of button what is happening at the borders that will be covered by that system.”
He said that the contract has been awarded and that the government is working on the funding the project.
“We are not overlooking the need for effective management of the border, we are conscious of the threats posed by criminal elements posing as herders coming from the neighbouring countries and we are really up to it together with other security agencies namely the Police, the SSS, the NIA and the military, we are working to prevent any incursion into our country of elements that threaten our security and this is not limited to land border.”
“As we are critical and alert at the land borders, we are equally doing a lot of work at the maritime end, preventing piracy and any undue incursion of our territory at that end just as we are equally committed to preventing elements that are unwanted from entering through the air or the air borders,” Mr Aregbesola concluded.