The All Progressives Congress (APC) has raised the alarm over an alleged strange directive ordering the withdrawal of Customs, Immigration and other security personnel from the country’s border posts in Kebbi and Katsina States, wondering what purpose such a directive was meant to serve.
However, in a swift reaction the Nigeria Immigration Service and the Nigeria Customs Service, yesterday said the allegation was completely false, stressing that no such order was either given or carried out.
In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the verbal directive led to the total withdrawal of the stated personnel from the border posts in the two states, leaving the posts unmanned.
It wondered who gave the order and for what purpose, and asked the federal government to immediately tell Nigerians what happened.
‘’It will not be enough for the government to tell Nigerians that it is not aware of such a development, because that will be more egregious than what happened in the first instance, and will amount to the government not being able to secure the country’s borders.
‘’It is also necessary to tell Nigerians how many states were affected by such orders. We were only made aware of two, but there is the possibility that the directive could have been more widespread,’’ APC said.
The party said with no one left to man the borders in the affected areas for as long as the directive lasts, which is yet to be determined, anything could happen.
‘’Who gave the verbal order? Was the order given verbally so that there will be no evidence of it? Were the Customs, Immigration and other security personnel ordered away to allow the free entry of contraband goods, election materials, weapons, terrorists or what?
‘’Even with our borders manned, Boko Haram terrorists have been marauding freely along the border areas. Will this illegal order not worsen the security situation, at a time the government is giving Nigerians the assurance that it will deal with Boko Haram a mortal blow within six weeks?’’ it queried.
APC said the development, coming a day after leaflets were distributed in Gombe State asking people to stay away from polling booths on election days, raises more fear over the ongoing scheming by the Jonathan Administration and the PDP to ensure the rescheduled elections do not hold.
‘’In pursuit of this objective, these band of desperate people will do anything, including threatening the very existence of the country. Nigerians must not allow them,’’ the party said.
Meanwhile, The Comptroller General of Immigration Service (CGIS) , David Shikfu Parradang, in his statement said emphatically that there was no such circular or directive given to the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) nor its personnel at Kebbi and Katsina State Commands. On the contrary, the NIS was reinforcing its borders and not contemplating abandoning same for a second.
“The attention of the Comptroller General of Immigration Service (CGIS) , David Shikfu Parradang, has been drawn to a statement allegedly credited to the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that a verbal directive has been given to the operatives of the Customs and Immigration Services to withdraw from the border posts in Kebbi and Katsina States.
“In the said report, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed was quoted as saying that a verbal directive has been given to the security operatives of the Customs and Immigration to vacate their duty posts on the borderlines across Kebbi and Katsina States.
“The CGIS wish to emphatically state that there is no such circular or directive given to the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) nor its personnel at Kebbi and Katsina State Commands. On the contrary, the NIS is reinforcing its borders and not contemplating abandoning same for a second.”
“ The Nigeria Immigration Service and indeed other security agencies understand the grave consequences of abandoning the nation’s front lines and so would never attempt to do so.
“ Members of the public are hereby enjoined to disregard and ignore such reports and further advised to give any useful information to ensure the security of our borders and the wellbeing of all Nigerians.
“The Comptroller General wishes to use this medium to assure the public that our officers and men are on 24/7 patrol and surveillance across all the nation’s borders,” the NIS statement said.
The Customs in its statement said in view of the security implication of the false alarm and its sensitivity, it is necessary for the Service to clarify the situation.
It said “There was no directive whatsoever, verbal or written to Officers of Nigeria Customs Service posted to Kebbi/Sokoto and Kaduna/Katsina commands to withdraw from the borders or their patrol bases.
“In the same vein, there was no directive withdrawing Customs Operatives from duty posts in other border stations across the country.
“In view of the security situation in the country, the Comptroller-General only last week, directed a reinforcement of Patrol Teams across the country. The Sokoto/Kebbi axis was beefed up with the deployment of a Special Squad in view of a reported incident between Customs and smugglers, the service explained.