Nigerian AirForce To Support Anti-Smuggling Operations

The Nigerian Air Force is providing technical support to the country's custom service (NCS) for air operation.

The Nigerian Air Force will be supporting the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS)’s anti-smuggling and border security operations targeting illicit trafficking activities around the country’s international borders and access points.

The Air Force is expected to make available on request two of its pilots to assist with operation of NCS Bell-427 helicopters and by so doing complement the manpower of NCS Air-Wing, said the Air Force in a statement shared on Thursday, Feb. 17.

According to the statement, the technical support is part of an agreement reached by both services on joint partnership. 

The Customs expects that the support would improve “air operations and anti-smuggling efforts particularly as it intensifies efforts in checkmating small arms proliferation across the country.”

In Feb. 2021, HumAngle reported on the impact of transnational arms trafficking on the violence in the Northwestern part of the country. 

During the eighth session of the Cameroon-Nigeria Trans-Border Security Committee in Aug. 2021, Babagana Monguno, Nigeria’s National Security Adviser lamented the threat of porous borders. 

Nigeria shares maritime and land borders with a number of countries including Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. The land borders are mostly considered porous and unmanned. 

On Aug. 21, 2019, the Nigerian government closed the country’s borders to address trans-border security challenges including terrorism, smuggling, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

The controversial and ineffective decision was subsequently lifted 16 months later in Dec. 2020 

Over the past years, the Customs has sought to revamp its air border patrol capabilities. The unit was known to have operated Dornier 228 aircraft.

In the early 2000s, the agency was reported to have embarked on the rehabilitation of the aircraft in the air border patrol unit.

In 2012, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) was reported to have approved funds for the purchase of a Cessna Citation surveillance aircraft. Within the same year, the Air Force was reported to have received orders from the Government to take over air borders patrol.

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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