The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has ordered the immediate withdrawal of security personnel undermining his regime’s partial closure of land borders from the country’s border posts.
This followed the discovery that 295 tankers laden with smuggled petroleum products were released on December 17 by some security operatives charged with the responsibility of manning the borders without authorisation.
The Presidency said on Saturday that following the development, Buhari set up an inquiry board chaired by the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.), to investigate it.
The board, upon completion of the investigation, found out that security operatives connived with some persons to release the tankers without authorisation.
Buhari’s media aide, Mr Femi Adesina, said in the State House statement on Saturday, “As part of the Federal Government’s effort to ensure food security and improve local production of goods at competitive prices, President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned ‘Operation Swift Response’ as a border drill exercise to checkmate the illegal activities of smugglers across our borders.
“The border drill has been hugely successful and has led to the interception and seizure of large quantities of foods, materials, minerals and petroleum resources illegally trafficked across our borders. The President commends the security agencies for a job well done.
“He, however, finds it disheartening to learn that 295 smuggled petroleum tankers were released without due authorisation on 17th December, 2019 by some security officials charged with the responsibility of protecting our borders.
“Sequel to this act, the National Security Adviser was directed to set up a board of inquiry to investigate the crime, and it was recommended to the President that all officials (civilian or security operatives) found to have connived to undermine government’s efforts should be withdrawn from the border drill and severely sanctioned by their respective organization.
“The President has accepted the recommendations and directed the immediate withdrawal and replacement of all those found culpable.
“He has also directed that their respective organisations should mete out appropriate disciplinary actions to them.”
The Presidency neither named the security agencies involved nor mentioned the persons alleged to have committed the illegality.
It was also silent on the nature of punishment to be meted out to the culprits.
Our correspondent reverted to Adesina to respond to the questions, but the Presidential spokesman did not respond to the enquiries.
The government had partially shut the land borders in August 2019 amid reported rising incidents of smuggling, particularly of food items, arms and illicit drugs.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, while giving an update on the gains of the closure, said that as of November, 2019, revenue from imports grew by 15 per cent.
He said this was against the expectation that the revenue would drop. He added that the local consumption of fuel dropped by 30 per cent as well.