From Richard Adejare, Abuja
No fewer than 33 illegal migrants have been arrested by the Inter-Security Task Force set up by the Federal Government to conduct joint border security in four geopolitical zones and seized several items in a week operation.
Mr. Joseph Attah, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), said this in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.
Attah explained that as at Monday, 33 illegal migrants were arrested, while 3,560 of 50kg bags of parboiled foreign rice had been seized.
He said 59 bags of NPK fertiliser; 15 vehicles; 12 drums of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS); three engine boats; 65 drums of groundnut oil and four trucks were also confiscated.
According to him, other items seized are 75 gallons of PMS; 29 motorcycles; 68 gallons of vegetable oil, and another 70 jerricans of PMS.
“The exercise, which commenced barely a week ago, has received appreciable support from members of the populace such as border community dwellers and other well-meaning Nigerians.
“The exercise, led by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), in collaboration with the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) with other Security and Intelligence agencies, has continued to patrol and secure our border areas.
“While an exercise of this nature is likely to create some inconveniences to members of the public, the overriding interest is to prevent the country against transnational security concerns, such as smuggling, proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
“Other concerned issues are irregular migration, terrorism and armed banditry, among others,” he said.
Attah said this was consistent with the constitutional responsibility of any well-meaning government, hence the need to continue to seek the support of all and sundry to achieve the desired objectives of the exercise.
According to him, this will help to promote a secured, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.
The joint border security exercise, codenamed “Exercise Swift Response”, commenced operation on Aug. 20. It is set up to ensure a better security of the country’s territorial integrity, particularly the land and maritime borders against trans-border security concerns.
The exercise is being coordinated by Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in the four zones of North-West, North-Central, South-West and South-South geopolitical zones.