President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigeria’s fragile nature of entry points to various countries increases terrorism, economic sabotage and the illicit flow of weapons.
Buhari, however, said that Nigeria and its neighbors must attach greater importance to effective border surveillance to stem the threat.
According to a statement issued on Thursday by his spokesperson, Femi Adesina, the president said this while receiving the Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, who is in Nigeria for a Global Conference on Fragile Borders, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Thursday.
Hailing Mikuriya on his fourth visit to the country, President Buhari said the current visit came at a time when Nigeria was gearing up for general elections, adding: “I made a fundamental commitment to ensuring that every Nigerian can exercise their right to vote by participating in a free and fair election, in the true practice of our relatively nascent democracy.
“Our goal is to ensure that this takes place in a peaceful and conducive environment, despite all the usual excitement and play that is known to occur during the election campaign.”
Speaking on the theme of the conference ‘Customs Enabling in Fragile and Conflict Affected Situations’, the president said it is “critically important to us as a country when we go to the polls, but equally important to most countries on the continent. , and dare I say the world.
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“In fact, it is quite frankly the single most troubling sub-issue on our national security agenda. The fragility of our borders has been a great Achilles heel in our fight against terrorism, economic sabotage and the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons”, he added.
The President further briefed the WCO Secretary General and his team on a number of efforts to combat the challenges of fragile borders, including “Our 2019 National Security Strategy, which promotes close inter-agency cooperation, and the National Counter-Terrorism Strategy which obliges the Nigerian Customs Service to support other Government Agencies in the fight against terrorism;
“Support the armed forces in launching operations to secure our borders;
“Demonstration of strong political will to support the Nigerian Customs Service, as a critical agency of the state in fulfilling its security and revenue mandates;
“Approval of the Federal Executive Council for a new Customs Modernization Project that actively promotes the integration of technology in border operations;
“And the continued effort to revise the Customs Enabling Act to strengthen the Nigerian Customs Service and provide tougher penalties against smuggling and other criminal acts.”
President Buhari, however, expressed the hope that the conference will seek to understand the operating environment that exists around countries struggling with fragile borders and see how comprehensive and comprehensive solutions can be proposed that address the multifaceted nature of the problems.
Mikuriya described the WCO as a global organization of 184 members, in which Nigeria plays an active and dynamic role.
He said Customs must now go beyond just generating revenue and go deeper into security, stressing that “without border security, we cannot effectively collect revenue.”
Mikuriya lamented that customs officials are often targeted by terrorists and armed groups, “so we need to collaborate with other security agencies, share intelligence and deploy technology.”
Therefore, he thanked Nigeria for hosting the three-day conference.