Nigeria Customs Service has stated that 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.
The transformation, according to a statement issued by the Service and signed by its Public Relations Officer, Deputy Comptroller Joseph Attah, was in a renewed effort to combat smuggling, irregular migration and other transitional organised crimes along the nation’s border coupled with the gradual reopening of the borders.
The statement said that despite the reopening of the borders for commercial activities, items such as parboiled rice, frozen chicken, illicit drugs, among others remain prohibited.
In the statement, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (retd), 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.
The statement noted that in 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 foreign rice; 10,447 bags of NPK fertilizer used for making explosives; 1,974 Vehicles; 895motorcycles; 18,690.3 Jerri cans of vegetable oil, among other seized items.
The total monetary value of the apprehended items is about Twelve Billion, Five Hundred and Thirty Eight Million, Three Hundred and Thirty Three Thousand, Five Hundred and Forty Five Naira Fifty Kobo(₦12,538,333,545.50).
“The priority remains to keep our borders safe from any inimical activity that will compromise our national interests. We, therefore, thank all Nigerians, especially the business community for their continuous support,” said the statement.