Niger crisis: Nigerian border residents allege extortion by Customs

“Just imagine, they cannot protect us but they can harass us when conveying goods for consumption in our community."

Niger crisis: nigerian border residents allege extortion by customs
Library shot of a customs checkpoint in katsina

Some residents of Magamar Jibia Community, located within the Nigeria-Niger border of Katsina State, have accused security personnel of treating them like Nigeriens.

The people made the allegation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Katsina on Tuesday.

They claimed that there right was being violated daily by unidentified officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

According to Dayyabu Muhammad, the security operatives on the Katsina-Jibia Road always went after them whenever they saw them conveying grains bought from Katsina for their personal use.

“Whenever we buy grains, especially the maize, the security operatives, especially the Customs, always block us on our way to our communities around the border area.

“In most cases, I spend not less than N12,000 extra before reaching home whenever I am conveying goods bought for consumption in our community.

“These security operatives have almost 37 checkpoints from Katsina to Jibia, which is not more than 47 kilometers.

“And at each checkpoint, they must collect money from us. It is unfortunate.

“As Nigerians, we cannot buy food items from the city and take them to our family without being harassed or extorted or the items would get seized,” he said.

Muhammad said that their people were not enjoying any dividend of democracy.

He regretted that they lived under daily attacks by bandits, who had made life unbearable for them.

Another resident, Alhaji Abdullahi Musa, alleged that the security operatives in their area were not protecting them against bandit attacks.

“Whenever there is bandit attacks, they hardly come at the right time,” he said.

“In spite of the numerous checkpoints, the bandits find their way to come and attack us,” he said, adding that they were always left to their fate.

“Just imagine, they cannot protect us but they can harass us when conveying goods for consumption in our community.

“We are not conveying them to Niger Republic.

“If they are working to stop the movement of goods to Niger, they should block the border.

“They also know all the illegal routes, these are the places they should block, not the road.

“The border closure has really affected us because most of our businesses here rely on patronage from the Nigeriens,” Musa said.

He further said that before the border closure, he had over N2 million capital, but had no kobo at the moment.

He said that the hardship presently facing the community was due to the border closure, which caused a lull in the economy of the area.

“And, unfortunately, over 90 per cent of our farmers are no longer farming because of insecurity.

“We are seriously facing hunger and difficult times.

“Our politicians are not helping matters, they only come to us when they need our votes, but we hardly see them again after the election.

A spare parts dealer in the area, Alhaji Abubakar Muhammad, said he had closed his business because of the lack of patronage.

Muhammad said, “Most of my customers come from Niger Republic and other communities around, but the insecurity has hindered them from coming.

The people, therefore, appealed to government at all levels, security agencies and politicians to come to their aid and find a lasting solution to the security problems facing the area.

Reacting to the allegations, the Spokesman for NIS in the state, CS Tahir Balarabe, advised the residents to report any officer demanding money from them.

Balarabe said, “the command has been doing its best to sanitise its operations, and always ready to deal with any of its operatives found wanting.