The Nigeria Customs Service on Thursday announced that the joint border patrol team known as the Operation Swift Response apprehended over 1,400 illegal immigrants and seized about 160,000 bags of rice in the past 16 months.
It stated that as of January 5, 2021, a total of 1,401 irregular migrants had been arrested, while the total seizures were 159,506.7 (50kg) bags of parboiled foreign rice.
Others include 10,447 bags of NPK fertilisers used for making explosives; 1,974 vehicles; 895 motorcycles; 18,690.3 jerry cans of vegetable oil, etc.
“The total monetary value of the apprehended items is about N12,538,333,545.5,” the Public Relations Officer, NCS, Joseph Attah, said in a statement issued in Abuja.
The service further stated that Operation Swift Response, which was inaugurated in August 2019 and coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser, had transformed into Nigeria’s Joint Border Patrol Team.
This, it said, was part of a tripartite operation, comprising Benin, Niger and Nigeria.
“With the reopening of the borders for commercial activities, items such as parboiled rice, frozen chicken, illicit drugs, among others remain prohibited,” the NCS stated.
It said the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, in a goodwill message to the transformed Operation Swift Response, applauded the commitment of the security operatives to the national assignment.
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.
The Customs Service noted that after 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 parts of Nigeria had 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,” it stated.