***Arrests 45 suspects
By Sandra Chukwunyere
Comptroller Uba, the Co-ordinator, Joint Border Drill Operations, in charge of Sector- 3, has assured that they are ready and willing to tight smugglers to a standstill.
Giving the assurance recently against smugglers operating in Kwara State, Comptroller Uba said that he is ready and will give the smugglers tough time.
The ever ready and no nonsense Officer revealed to news men that despite the coronavirus pandemic slowing down economic activities in the country, Comptroller Uba and his men are leaving no stone unturned in anti-smuggling operations.
He said they are combing border areas and even bush paths to thwart illicit trade of any kind and that their strategy is already yielding results.
“This assiduousness has shown in mind-boggling seizures, as well as arrests made by fearless Comptroller Uba and his team.”
He continued: “Yesterday, the Sector intercepted more prohibited items, thereby making a total of over N1billion seizures in the last 10months of its operations.”
Comptroller Uba, reiterated his commitments on the fight against economic sabotage disclosed,“The items just intercepted brought a total number of seizures recorded by the Sector, from August 2019 till date to 96, with Duty Paid Value, DPV, of more than N1billion
“The sector alsoarrested 45 suspects in connection with the smuggled items”.
Comptroller Uba emphasised, “The Sector, in line with the directives of Comptroller-General of Customs, CGC Hameed Ali must ensure maximum revenue collection for government, while curbing smuggling in all ramifications”.
Comptroller Uba hinted that the Sector operates more on intelligence, as the Customs Headquarters Roving team, comprising of Officers, DSS, Nigerian Army, Immigration, Police and other security agencies raided a warehouse at Abayawo Area of Ilorin West Local Government of Kwara State.During the raid, about 450 bags of foreign rice were uncovered.
That was not all.Also, in the early hours of yesterday, the team through intelligence uncovered smugglers hideout at ITA-MERIN Area of Ilorin West Local Government of Kwara State, and 224 bags of rice were evacuated to Customs house in Ilorin.
More so, other seizures made by the team include petroleum products; Vegetable oil; bundles of Textile Materials; bags of foreign fertilizer; Cartons of assorted drinks; motorcycles and Vehicles, among others.
Comptroller Uba advised Nigerians to shun smuggling and invest in legitimate trade to enhance economic growth.
The Joint Border Drill Operations Sector -3 covers North Central States like Niger, Kwara, Kogi and Benue.
Financial Business News learnt that the Sectorunder the watch of Comptroller Uba, as the Co-ordinator has made remarkable performance in anti-smuggling operations.For instance, in the first quarter of 2020 alone, the Sector recorded44 Seizures.The break-down of seizures include1,657 bags of foreign rice, which brought the total number of seized rice from August last year to about 14,813 bags, which is equivalent to 22 trailers, with DPV of N451, 685. 900;282 Kegs of Vegetable oil;898 Drums of AGO;1355 Jerrycans of Petrol;348 bundles of Textile Materials;28 bags of foreign fertilizer;66 cartons of Beer,26 units of Vehicles and8 motorcycles.
Comptroller Uba stressed that Sector- 3 will continue to map out new operational strategies to defeat smugglers in Kwara.
Tackling child labor in cassava through improved weed control
Weeds are major constraints to cassava production in Africa, contributing to yield reduction and placing a huge burden on the lives of farmers, especially women and children.
Because cassava is a long duration crop, women often stoop for hundreds of hours to weed and keep an hectare of cassava clean for an annum. In some cases, children are withdrawn from school to help their parents to weed, a practice that compromises the education of children and undermines their future.
However, the gloomy side of weeds in cassava is changing and becoming brighter, thanks to researchers from IITA working under the Cassava Weed Management Project (CWMP) / and the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI).
In the last five years, the team has developed an integrated weed control package combining best-bet agronomic practices and the use of environmentally friendly herbicides in a kit known as the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management.
The package is now being disseminated to help improve the livelihoods of farmers. Furthermore, the team has joined forces with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC)—a regulator in Nigeria— and trained 659 spray service providers in communities in Abia, Benue, Ogun, and Oyo state.
The spray service providers comprise young men who already exist in local communities, but are now being empowered on the safe use and application of herbicides.
During the training, which had both practical and theoretical sessions, participants were taught safety and correct use of herbicides, and the use of best-bet agronomic practices in cassava farming systems. There was also a practical session on calibration using knapsack sprayers. A breakdown of trained participants across states showed that Abia had 105 participants, Benue had 101 participants, Ogun had 122 participants, and Oyo had 331 participants.
Through this approach, the researchers are addressing the issue of child labour as well as building local capacities among youth to deal with the problem of weeds. Moreover, the approach is helping to provide sustainable jobs for young people in local communities. The Assistant Director for NAFDAC in Ogun state, Pharm Linda J. Halim described the training of spray service providers as a step in the right direction. She commended IITA-CWMP/ ACAI for organizing the training, stressing that it would raise farmers’ consciousness on the safe use of herbicides, create jobs, protect and preserve the environment, and improve