The Federal Government said on Monday that no fewer than 1,375 irregular migrants were arrested during the border drill, code-named “Exercise Swift Response”, which was conducted between Aug. 20, 2019 and Dec. 17, 2020.
Speaking at a New Year media briefing in Lagos on Monday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said that the border drill was a huge success.
The minister said that the seizures of contraband during the period included 157,511 50kg. bags of parboiled foreign rice, 10,447 bags of NPK fertiliser (used for making explosives) and 18,630 jerry cans of vegetable oil.
According to him, the total monetary value of the seized items is about ₦12.362 billion.
Mohammed said that the exercise had saved a lot of resources, while enhancing national security.
“The importation of drugs and proliferation of small arms, which usually fuel violent extremism and terrorism in the country, have been significantly curtailed.
“For instance, 95 per cent of illicit drugs and weapons that are being used for acts of terrorism and kidnapping in the country come in through our porous borders.
“However, since the border drill started, this importation has been drastically reduced,” he added.
Besides, Mohammed said the agricultural sector had received a boost from the drill, with the country’s rice production capacity almost reaching the level of self-sufficiency, while poultry production was at a high level.
He commended security operatives for displaying a high level of professionalism and unflinching commitment to the national assignment.
It would be recalled that “Exercise Swift Response” was launched, as part of efforts to secure the land and maritime borders in the South-South, South-West, North-Central and North-West zones from smuggling and irregular migration.
The exercise, coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), was meant to boost the national economy and strengthen border security.
Officials of the Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigerian Immigration Service, the Armed Forces of Nigeria, as well as the Nigeria Police Force and other security and intelligence agencies were involved in the exercise.
Following a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari on Dec. 16, 2020, four major border crossing points at Seme, Illela, Maigatari and Mfun were reopened.