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Border patrol vows to prevent illegal import of COVID-19 vaccines

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The Coordinator of Joint Border Patrol Team (JBPT), Sector III, Comptroller Olugboyega Peters, has assured Nigerians that his team will prevent smuggling of fake coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines through any of the borders within its jurisdiction.

Peters, in conjunction with senior officers of the army and other security agencies, told reporters during a press briefing in Ilorin, Kwara State, yesterday that members of his team had promptly added COVID-19 vaccines to the list of its contrabands.

For him, though the sensitive medical solubles are only transported through the port, the antecedents of some unpatriotic Nigerians suggest that the vaccines may be brought into the country by road, without minding the consequences on the health of other Nigerians.

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His words, “One of the reasons we are here is to prevent importation of contrabands, illicit drugs, human trafficking and so on. All the security agents now work together as a team to tackle crimes of any sort.

“If we can arrest persons carting guns illegally, we can ensure that no COVID-19 vaccine is smuggled into any of our territories. In fact, the government does not want it through the roads, and we are saying now that it should not come through the borders.

We are on top of the situation. Even if by the seas, there are designated borders for this. If you decide to import the COVID-19 vaccines via other routes, you will be arrested and prosecuted.”

According to him, the sector, since January, has seized goods with Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N75,851,300 and smashed a syndicate of four illegal immigrants duping unsuspecting Nigerians.

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He noted: “The JBPT, while conducting stop-and-search along the Lokoja–Abuja highway, on February 21, 2021, about 12:00hrs, intercepted one Mazda 626 with registration number ABJ 187 BF, conveying five women from Zuba in Abuja, to Lokoja in Kogi State.

“On searching the vehicle, 15 bundles and 18 pieces of wrappers were found in the bonnet and other components of the vehicle. Preliminary investigations revealed that the five women were from Chad, Ghana, Mali and Niger Republic. They were found to be illegal immigrants without any means of identification.”

As part of efforts to implement the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA), the Federal Government had on December 18, 2020, announced the re-opening of four land borders – Seme in Lagos, Illela in Sokoto, Maigatari in Jigawa and Mfun in Cross River.

This equally led to the name change on December 10, 2020 from Joint Border Operations Drill (JBOD) to JBPT as part of a tripartite operation comprising Benin, Niger and Nigeria.

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