Smuggling promotes insecurity, unfair business practice – experts

SMUGGLING in Nigeria has a detrimental impact on the nation’s security and economy, stakeholders in the security sector say.

Some of them who spoke to The ICIR argued that smuggling threatens respectable companies and make it harder for the government to get import taxers and deliver necessary services to the people.

Accordingly, smuggling results in unfair competition, making it harrder for local firms to compete when smuggled items are sold for less than locally produced goods.


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Furthermore, because smugglers may partake in other illicit activities like gun smuggling, smuggling can worsen insecurity. 

Recently, the media has placed a searchlight on the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) activities. For instance, a report by Premium Times revealed that some Customs officials were arrested and detained by the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

According to the report, at least 40 NCS employees, most of whom are in the service’s highest hierarchy, have been indicted in a thorough EFCC investigation into the proceeds of bribes made to customs officials by smugglers importing and exporting illegal items across the Nigerian borders.

In another report on the activities of smugglers done by Fisayo Soyombo for the Foundation For Investigative Journalism (FIJ), Soyombo narrated his experience with customs officers in when he acted as a smuggler to import bags of rice from the Benin Republic.

According to him, he got some bags of rice from Benin and brought them to Nigeria after successfully bribing some customs officers.

Amidst all these and more, stakeholders have called for more actions to secure the nation’s borders against the activities of smugglers.

Dangers of smuggling

According to a security analyst, Olayiwola Lawrence, Nigeria’s exposure to smuggled weapons entering the nation through its border posts has left the country in a complex situation. 

He said more people and groups are illegally obtaining weapons, and the growing amount of arms smuggling activity along the country’s borders indicates grave danger for both national and regional security. 

As a result, having illegal firearms makes it easier for individuals or groups to carry out dangerous activities such as terrorist attacks, kidnappings, conflicts, cult wars, and armed robberies, all of which have increased in Nigeria recently, experts say.

It has been observed that smuggling poses a risk to any nation’s security, with armed groups like Boko haram and bandits having free access to guns and weapons through the activities of smugglers.

Firearms used by armed groups in Nigeria are smuggled from Turkey, Libya, others – Report

AFTER a three-year study carried out by the Conflict Armament Research, CAR, an independent investigative organisation based in the UK, into the proliferation of weapons used by armed groups involved in Nigeria’s herder-farmer conflict, it shows that most of the guns were smuggled into the country from Libya, Turkey and Côte d’Ivoire.

Violence from clashes between herders and farmers in North–Central Nigeria has claimed the lives of more than 3,600 people and displaced 300,000 people since 2014, according to data obtained from Armed Conflict Location & Event Data, ACLED project.

The focal points in the study were Zamfara, Katsina, and Kaduna, which had been hit hard by attacks from armed bandits since 2017.

Experts view on the activities of smugglers in connection to the proliferation of illicit arms in Nigeria

Despite all attempts by relevant authorities to curb the tide of illegal smuggling of firearms in the country, studies show that the spread of illicit firearms across the country has continued to fuel insecurity.

A security expert at the SBM Intelligence, Emeka Okoro, said smuggling has adversely affected Nigeria’s security by fueling illegal trade, funding criminal activities, and undermining the stability of the nation’s economy. 

He added that it has contributed to the proliferation of illicit goods and weapons, thereby posing challenges for overall law enforcement and border control.

“To explain further, smuggling in Nigeria has led to the influx of contraband such as weapons, drugs, and counterfeit goods. This has not only posed a direct threat to public safety but has also contributed to the funding of criminal networks. 

“Additionally, it undermines the economy by fostering unfair competition and tax evasion, which affects legitimate businesses and government revenue. 

According to Okoro, ineffective border controls exacerbate these issues, making it crucial for authorities to address smuggling to enhance security. 

He claimed all these are made possible due to the porous nature of the country’s borders and, of course, the unholy activities of Customs officers who have embedded themselves within the Service.

Also speaking to The ICIR on the danger of smuggling to the security of Nigeria, The spokesperson for the Arewa youths for peace and security, Salihu Dantata Mahmud, said smuggling is a pathway to insecurity in Nigeria.

According to him, smuggling reduces the income from imported goods as taxes are not paid due to the backdoor entrance of such products against standard border entry. 

“Smuggling also weakens the economy of a country as internal productivity is affected since citizens sometimes sees this imported goods cheaper than locally produced goods. Smuggling also increases insecurity when illegal arms and amunition are imported through illegal border routes. It makes proliferation of arms to be at higher level. It also makes a country unstable and encourages laziness on productivity,” Mahmud stated.






     

     

    He calls for more stringent measures at the borders to curb the activities of smugglers.

    The experts concluded that smuggling impacted border settlements and the adjacent areas. 

    Additionally, they concurred that smugglers would encounter drug use because drugs are among the commodities smuggled across porous borders, which can exacerbate the nation’s already high level of insecurity. 

    Insecurity and higher crime rates in border settlements, the surrounding areas, and Nigeria as a whole can also be fostered by smuggling and the operations of smugglers. 

    A reporter with the ICIR
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