Nigeria and the Republic of Benin on Tuesday in Abuja renewed their commitment to tackling illegal trade in small arms and light weapons across their borders.
The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko, and his Beninois counterpart, Col. Soussia Theophile, made the pledge during the latter’s two-day working visit to customs headquarters.
“Today we are having problems with the proliferation of arms and trade in hard drugs and, as such, it has become imperative that we save our nations from self destruction,” Dikko told his visiting colleague.
He appealed for increased cooperation between the two countries to fast track the movement of goods and persons for genuine and legitimate businesses.
Dikko pledged that the Nigeria Customs would ensure easy movement of genuine Beninois business people into and within the Nigeria borders.
He, however, warned that the Nigeria Customs would not hesitate to punish fraudulent persons caught cutting corners at the borders, and said the Benin authorities should do same.
Theophile, who spoke through an interpreter, pledged his commitment to effective partnership that would improve security in the borders and encourage more revenue generation for both states.
He stressed the need for the two customs to harmonise their revenue generation efforts in order to boost revenue generation in both countries.
Theophile also praised the Nigeria Customs Service for its leading role in ensuring success of the customs conference held in March in Cotonou.
He said President Goodluck Jonathan’s attendance of the World Customs Forum in Brussels was a demonstration of Africa’s commitment to promoting international cooperation on issues affecting customs and border protection.
According to the 2012 Small Arms Survey published by the United Nations on Monday, it is estimated that 875 million small arms in circulation worldwide are produced by more than 1,000 companies in 100 countries.
The survey noted that illegal trade in small arms and light weapons kill more than 500,000 people each year with a particularly heavy toll on civilians.