Thursday, July 4, 2013

Seme: Wild frontier gets even messier

Seme: Wild frontier gets even messier

…Our records prove that smugglers see hell here – CAC Seme Command


Comptroller Othman, CAC of Seme Area Command.
Seme Border, Nigeria’s extreme south-western frontier with Benin Republic is worse today than it ever was, mauricearchibongtravels authoritatively reveal. Are you thinking of leaving/entering Nigeria by road? Look to another border post to avoid losing your belongings or worse still, having some miscreant posing as security operative give you one across the lips.

Such is the belligerent conduct of many hirelings called Camp Boys, that they remind you of Chinua Achebe’s outsider weeping louder than the bereaved. It remains unclear, why Seme throws up over 12 checkpoints between the Nigerian end and the Beninese side – a distance of less than 300 metres. Despite the plethora of check-points along the Seme-Krake frontier posts, the commuter faces worse risks than those that use other borders.

Yes, this is Seme, where commuters are frequently robbed in broad daylight. In fact, the situation is now so bad that, travellers are fleeced by both touts and uniformed personnel. To make matters worse, the route is crater-infested, muddy and slippery as well as littered with pools of pungent water. In deed, a number of wayfarers have been tossed into pools of muddy water while an okada-rider struggled to get one from one side to the other.

At Seme, the sight of smugglers clad in military uniform or camouflage is commonplace. Whether these are true service personnel or impersonators, it is hard to say. But, what one can say, is that operatives of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) are urgently needed here, to ensure that terrorists donning military fatigues do not freight arms and ammunitions across the border with ease as many paramilitary officials wary of engaging soldiers or navy ratings, usually simply give way.

Evidently, genuine security operatives are hampered by circumstances beyond their control. Another classic example could be found in what we have severally called off-side location of Nigerian agencies’ control posts. Depressingly, too; numerous physically-challenged people were seen being wheeled along in improvised tricycles specially designed to convey as much contraband as possible.

Welcome to Seme: It is not for nothing this frontier was dubbed Animal Kingdom. More than 20 years after such an unflatering epithet was foisted on this border, Seme still lives up to its billing, so to say. A few years ago, when redesign and reconstruction of Seme Border began, countless travellers heaved loud sighs of relief.

It was thought that within a short time, the madness that ruled these climes would be a thing of the past. Sadly, more than two years down the road, the project is far from complete and the loose situation is amply exploited by human traffickers, smugglers, drug couriers and other undesirable characters. Apparently, for those that must cross Seme frontier, things will definitely get worse before they get better.

Meanwhile, the Customs Area Controller (CAC) for Seme Border, Comptroller Othman Abdu Saleh has reiterated his warning to smugglers to keep off his precinct. During an exclusive chat with mauricearchibongtravels, this CAC declared: “Our goals at Seme Border are to suppress smuggling, facilitate legitimate trade, collection of revenue and accounting for same. It also include the general security duties for the well-being of the country. There is no doubt that the task before us is Herculean, but achievable through collaborative effort”.

Personnel of NCS Seme Area Command have truly remained on their toes. This could be gleaned from the 460 seizures recorded and 19 suspects apprehended between January and May this year. The DPV (Duty Paid Value) of the seized items were put at almost N245million. In the area of collection, the Comptroller Othman Saleh-led command has also not done badly, posting a N3.118 billion revenue generation within the same period.

A humble and candid person, Othman admitted that without the support and cooperation of royal fathers, various security agencies and stakeholders at the border, the successes recorded by his command might have been difficult to achieve.

Hear him: “The result has been reassuring and it is rewarding to note that the working synergy is yielding positive result”. Expressing appreciation to Comptroller General of Custom Abdullahi Dikko Inde, Othman added: “We have been well-motivated through the ongoing capacity-building initiatives of the comptroller general of customs. Logistical support had also been adequately provided for.

“These incentives have enabled us to carry out our assigned responsibility better than before. The manpower need of the Command had been further addressed through the recent deployment of newly recruited and trained vibrant young men and women to our command”.

Concluding, Othman remarked: “Without trying to sound immodest, I wish to state that we have made substantial progress since my assumption of duty here on September 3, 2012”.

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