Following the closure of land borders nationwide by the Federal Government, most smugglers of banned items have devised a new method to beat the security authorities.
Sunday Tribune investigation at Illela, in Illela Local Government Area of Sokoto State, a border town between Nigeria and Niger Republic, has revealed.
Sunday Tribune learnt that more than 100 illegal routes are now being used by the smugglers to bring banned items such as rice, vegetable oil and even second hand clothes, among others, into the country.
A security official who spoke with Sunday Tribune on condition of anonymity disclosed that the border closure had no major effects on the smugglers, saying they were making use of illegal routes.
He said: “we are here monitoring the activities of these people, but we have limited power to do much.
“Our duty is to man this border and ensure that no one crosses or passes through it, but we cannot go and monitor illegal routes which are not part of our duty,” he added.
Meanwhile, the spokesman of the customs in the state, Mailafiya Magaji, referred Sunday Tribune to the National spokesman, Mr John Attah.
When contacted, Attah assured that all the illegal routes would be looked into as soon as possible.
He assured that the office of the National Security Adviser is monitoring the joint operations, which he said, were aimed at curbing all the illegal routes and stopping the importation of all the banned items into the country.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mustapha Shehuri, on Saturday reassured farmers on accessibility of better farming equipment and government support.
Shehuri gave the assurance when he visited the Livestock House of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Kaduna.
Shehuri said that the visit was to make sure that the staff and management team were working in line with the objectives of government on improving the farmers capacity toward food production.
Shehuri said that the farming equipment being procured by the ministry would be sold to farmers at 50 per cent discount to improve their production amidst the border closure saga.
“We will make sure the equipment go to the people they are meant for because procurement of the equipment is an investment by the government to achieve its policy of diversification through the agricultural sector.
“With the border closure and diversification policy, we now produce the rice we consume, which is a positive result as against two to three years ago when we were importing 90 per cent of our rice.
“The border closure has now made rice farmers to be smiling to the banks, it has created more jobs, not only on rice but also other commodities that we consume,” he said.
Shehuri described Nigerian farmers as the most hard working people in the country, saying, “they work tirelessly even without assistance from the government to improve the country’s economy.
“We look at agriculture as a business and we assure Nigerians of better jobs from the type of growth that will result from it.”
Responding, the North West Zonal Director of the ministry, Mr Owolabi Mathew described the minister’s visit as a good omen which would enhance the capability of staff of the ministry.
“The visit will help the minister forward our challenges in relations to farmers and suggest viable means of addressing them at the headquarters for development of agricultural sector,” he said.