Mr Hameed Ali, the Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said the ongoing Operation Border Drill to secure Nigeria’s borders was as important as the fight against Boko Haram.
Ali stated this on Wednesday in Maigatari local government area of Jigawa while addressing officers and men from NCS, Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and the Nigerian Army (NA) at the Maigatari/Niger Republic border.
“We are here to see the condition of your health and operation. We’re also here to convey the message of President Muhammad Buhari to you.
“The President directed us to come and see your condition of health and operation.
“He asked us to come and express his gratitude and commendation for your dedication and commitment to your fatherland and your resolute stand to ensure the security of Nigeria.
“The President wants to bring to your notice that your coming to Maigatari border is as important as those fighting Boko Haram,” Ali said.
He said the operation was to ensure national security, the wellbeing of Nigerians and stem human trafficking.
“What is bedeviling Nigeria now is insecurity which is as a result of proliferation of arms used by criminals to terrorize our people, and without those arms they cannot do any harm to us.
“Secondly, it is to ensure the wellbeing of our people by stopping contraband food into the country.
“This is because contraband foods such as frozen chickens and rice are harmful to our health.
“Let me tell you if you don’t know, the frozen chickens and turkeys imported contain chemicals that are harmful to our health.
“For instance, these frozen products contain chemicals used in preserving dead bodies, that’s what is used on these contraband frozen food to keep them fresh for your consumption.
“So also imported rice as it spent a minimum of five years in stores and you are happy to say I bought Thailand or Indian rice.
“What they usually do is bring them to Cotonou to re-bag and give it a new date.
“This rice is harmful because it causes different types of cancer and kidney disease,” he explained.
The customs boss added that another reason for the operation was to check the influx of unknown people into the country.
“Most importantly it checks human trafficking and influx of unknown people into our country.
“Most actors in the insecurity that bedevils our country are not Nigerians and because our borders are porous they come in, perpetrate their heinous acts and disappear.
“So the idea is to ensure everyone coming in or going out of the country follow the laid down procedures,” the customs boss said.
In his remarks, the Comptroller General of the NIS, Mr Mohammed Babandede, urged the personnel to sustain the successes they recorded in the operation.
“We must sustain the successes we recorded so far in this operation. This is because security is like a puzzle, if you miss a link then you’re in a dilemma.
“So ensure that anybody that wants to enter Nigeria enters through the recognized borders and goes out through same.
“Ensure that people have their document before coming in and going out of the country,” Babandede said.
He also urged the personnel not to harass or intimidate anyone, but ensure that people respect the law.
Also, Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Aliyu Ndagi, head of the operation, urged the personnel to apply professionalism in their operation.
“I urge you to apply the basic degree of professionalism in your operation.
“You should also try as much as you can to establish cordial relationship with the members of the host community.
“I urge you to establish cordial relationship and live in peace with the local populace.
“Always give them clear reason why you are conducting this operation and live in peace with them.
“This is because you are from your individual communities and when you retire you go back to them and they will treat you the way you treated them when you were in service,” Ndagi said.
The delegation later interacted with members of the community, including traditional rulers and local council members on the imperative for conducting the operation.