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Sunday, 25 February 2024 07:01

How porous border fuels insecurity in Nigeria

The inability of the Federal Government to secure and develop Nigeria’s border communities is contributing to the lingering security crisis bedeviling the nation, DAILY POST reports

Enquiries show that banditry, kidnapping, farmer-herder conflict and insurgency being experienced in the country are consequences of the fallout of the Libyan conflict and the influx of foreign mercenaries into the country.

This was not unconnected to why the former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 closed land borders in an attempt to stem the rising inflow of arms smuggling, foreign fighters, drug peddling, and other prohibited items into Nigeria.

In an effort to mitigate the influx of foreign mercenaries, the Buhari-led administration directed the then Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, Muhammed Babandede, to protect the border against foreign invaders.

However, DAILY POST reports that despite the efforts of the Nigerian government, the country has continued to be infiltrated by criminal elements from neighbouring countries. Smuggling of firearms has also continued.

Concerned over the deteriorating security situation in the country, Nigeria’s former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, on February 12, identified the porous borders as a significant contributory factor to the country’s security crisis.

Underscoring the critical role of border security, Gowon emphasised the imperative of strengthening border security measures to prevent external threats, and deter the infiltration of criminal elements from neighboring countries.

He said, “Our borders are very porous. Take the North West to the North East, that is close to a thousand miles, some of the perpetrators of these heinous acts are from across the border.

“We must identify these elements and deal with them. I think we should have more security manpower on standby with adequate infrastructure to ensure that our borders are well guarded in case of any eventuality.”

Border as escape route for criminals

Study has shown that nearly all terrorists and other criminal elements think of one or the other form of escape before or immediately after perpetrating a criminal activity.

The current state of Nigerian borders across the country has been aiding and abetting the escape of criminals after committing heinous crimes.

DAILY POST recalls that in May 2022, the prime suspect in the murder of a 200-level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Deborah Samuel Yakubu, escaped to the Republic of Niger after committing the crime.

According to the police, the man whose face was captured in the viral video of Deborah’s cruel killing, was suspected to be a foreigner from the neighbouring country.

A security source, who preferred not to be mentioned, told DAILY POST on Saturday that the security of border communities has remained one of the major challenges of the Nigeria Police in the ongoing fight against insecurity in Nigeria.

He said, “One of the challenges of the police is this issue of lack of secured borders. Most times, when a terrorist is declared wanted, you won’t see them in Nigeria again.

“This is a big issue mostly in the Northern part of the country. For instance, when the notorious Benue gang leader, Terwase Akwaza, also known as Gana was declared wanted years before he was killed in 2020, he left the country.

“The terrorist and his gang operated within Benue and Taraba State. It was after he was killed that we learnt that he usually escapes to Cameroon whenever security operatives are after him.

“Himself and other members of the gang used to pass through Kurmi Local Government of Taraba State and escape to Cameroon where nobody knew them. So border security is very important in the ongoing fight against insurgency in the country.

“If you go to Kastina and some other states in the North, the same thing happens even till date. Suspects continue to escape through the border to Niger. Some of them even speak Nigerien languages so they will go there and behave like they are citizens of the country.

“Don’t forget also that the same thing happens when terrorists or any criminal elements are wanted in neighbouring countries, they usually find ways to escape to Nigeria too.”

A security expert, Ben Ijeoche also told DAILY POST on Saturday that the Federal Government “should declare war on the smuggling of firearms into the country”.

According to Ben, “the government claims that the borders are closed, yet the bandits and the Boko Haram members keep smuggling firearms into Nigeria. Are they using magic?

“I think the government should declare war on these border problems. Tightening the border will in many ways stem the growing security crisis”.

On the claim that the assailants causing mayhem in the country are not Nigerians, Ben said, “you can’t categorically say that the bandits and terrorists are not Nigerians but when you hear people saying that the criminals are foreigners, there are elements of truth there.

“Hundreds of these guys are being killed at least in a year but you hardly see anyone looking for his or her missing son. So, is it that they don’t have parents or relatives? You can’t rule out the fact we have foreign criminals living among us”.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Immigration Service, told DAILY POST on Saturday that the “NIS is doing its best in securing our approved borders, while also policing the entire stretch of our land and coastal borders”.

When asked the challenges in the border security, Controller Tony Akuneme, Special Assistant to the Comptroller General on media told DAILY POST that “the issue is more challenging because we have our brothers on both sides of most border communities, so the contiguity as a result of similar cultures and religion makes it even more intriguing”.

According to Akuneme, “the NIS is deploying more men and materials towards the border areas to complement other security agencies all of which form the Joint Task Forces helping to secure the country.

“We are equally deploying technology now with the support of the Minister of Interior to ensure real time monitoring of activities along the border routes from our command and control room in Abuja.

“All we need is the support of Nigerians and more motivation from the federal government”.

 [DailyPost]
 
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