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Investigation: How Security Agents, Local Criminals Smuggle Petrol, Weapons Across Taraba/Cameroon Borders

Some security personnel manning international border routes between Taraba State and the Republic of Cameroon are allegedly aiding bandits to smuggle petrol motor spirit (PMS) and weapons out of the country, Taraba Truth and Facts Investigations reveals.

Taraba State shares a vast land and water border with Cameroon in about six local governments, many which are not policed.

  Ambazonian rebels fighting for liberation in Southern Cameroon are however using some Nigerian businessmen to get petrol into the region through smuggling of the product at an exorbitant rate.

Local residents said that the smuggling of PMS is now a lucrative business for even security personnel manning border routes along the river Kashimbila in Takum, Abong in Kurmi and Maidaga and Hainare in Sardauna Local Government Areas of Taraba State.

A local resident who pleaded anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue told our correspondent that on a daily basis truck load of PMS accompanied by armed security personnel moved out of Takum and Baissa in Kurmi local government to the neighboring Republic of Cameroon.

According to him, the Ambazonian rebels with some Nigerian business collaborators including the Police, Army, Immigration and Custom personnel are deep necked in the smuggling business.

He noted that because security personnel are involved, the smugglers moved freely beating the check points into the Republic of Cameroon unchecked.

Another eyewitness who simply gave his name as Maishanu explained that in Sardauna Local Government Area smugglers use informal routes in and out of Taraba to Cameroon Republic to make their businesses thrive. 

"Where they are caught, they bribe their way through. There are also others who come in to smuggle precious stones mined in Sardauna and because of the huge money being gotten from gold, blue Sapphire and other precious stones, security personnel too are in the business of smuggling these items.

"We are also having a problem with them because they sometimes rustle our cows into Cameroon and sell.

"These criminals don't use the normal route and stopping them is a problem. Apart from rustling our cows, they kidnapped our people and most Nigerians blamed every atrocities committed by these criminals on herders, but it will interest you know that some of them of them are not herders," he said.

In Takum Local Government Area, it was gathered that on May 7, 2021 the Army in Takum seized over 10 Jerry cans of PMS at Mayo filling station close to Wukari junction.

The Army personnel who accompanied staff of Victims Support Fund (VSF) to commissioned a solar boreholes at Government Commercial College and other COVID-19 intervention for the school ran into a smuggling syndicate allegedly buying PMS in several Jerry cans of 25 to 50 litres container arranged to buy the product and immediately confiscated 10 of the Jerry cans already loaded with the product.

When journalists accoasted the Captain who led the operation on why he ordered the confiscation of the PMS, he told journalists that he was acting on intelligence.

"These guys will load PMS in Jerry cans and take it to these idiots in the bush which they use to fuel their motorcycles to attack and kill my boys. Some even cross into the neighboring Cameroon and sell the product, " he said.

An Army officer who confided in our correspondent said following report of the activities of Ambazonia rebels and Nigerian associates who smuggled PMS along the river lines within the Nigeria/Cameroon border in Takum local government area, the army has commenced operation to apprehend the criminals.

According to him, one Sgt. Danjuma Garba was arrested in connection to a missing rifle and smuggling of PMS into Cameroon.

According the middle rank officer, on June 21, at about 22/2300 hours the personnel on patrol intercepted three vehicles and recovered 10 drums of PMS, 10 gallons of PMS and arrested one driver while two other drivers absconded.

"Two soldiers were also arrested for aiding and abetting. Those arrested were Sgt. Danjuma Garba with service N0: 96NA/43/8891 and Sgt. Samuel Hanya, service N0: 97NA/44/3844 of 23 BDE.

"Again, at about 230130 hours on June 21, one AK 47 rifle, belonging to CPL Monday Rimfa was reported missing while he was asleep on sentry duty. The investigation commenced and it was revealed that Sgt. Danjuma Garba was the only soldier that passed the sentry post at the time the weapon was confirmed missing.

"The movement of Sgt. Danjuma Garba was traced and the weapon was recovered after a thorough search. The soldiers have been detained, items are in custody and disciplinary action will be meted on the soldiers.

Taraba State Police Command's Public Relations Officer DSP. David Misal did not reply to a text message sent to his phone nor picked calls made to his phone line as at the time of filing this report.

However, the Immigration Public Relations officer, Ayuba Tijos said he will investigate the matter and get back to our correspondent. He was yet to get back as at the time of filing this report.

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