Olayinka Oyegbile .THE NATION. April 28, 2013
The Federal Government may be forced into erecting a fence along the country’s border with Chad if the current level of insecurity in the Northeast persists, The Nation has learnt.
The fence is to be erected along the corridors considered “easily accessible” to foreigners who come in to cause mayhem.
A source from the Presidency who does not want his name in print said government is considering the border fence option as a way of curbing the infiltration of the country’s borders by “unwanted and troublesome foreign elements.”
According to the source, the planned fence is exploratory and meant to curb the international dimensions of the criminality in area.
The source said government has been considering the issue for some time and has now been necessitated by the recent massacre in Baga, Borno State, which pitched soldiers from Nigeria, Niger and Chad against terrorists who have turned the area into a base to attack civilians across northern Nigeria.
The source said:”The truth is the security situation along the border with Chad has worsened considerably and we might need to take some radical measures to restore normalcy to the area and protect our people from these foreign criminals.”
It was gathered that intelligence reports from North-East have shown that Nigerians along the borders with Niger and Chad are exposed to frequent attacks from criminals from these countries, who are in the habit of rustling livestock of Nigerian farmers, stealing their farm produce and attacking the women.
The raid, which dates back to the Chadian civil war in the 80s, has since snowballed into terrorism, as foreign militants and arms dealers are now believed to be using these routes to foment trouble in Nigeria. It is widely believed that the Al-Queda in the Maghreb use this route to enter the country and perhaps aid Boko Haram in its operations.
Two weeks ago, a military operation in Baga was reported to have led to the death of at least 185 civilians and the destruction of the entire community. However, the Nigerian Army has denied that casualty figure. According to it, only 37 persons died in the clash, including six civilians, one soldier and 30 members of the Boko Haram sect.
The commander of the JTF in the area, Brig Gen Austin Edokpaye, had told reporters last week that the force was surprised by the array of sophisticated and heavy weapons deployed by the terrorists, including rocket-propelled grenades. He said the military action had led to the arrest of several Boko Haram members and the capture of heavy weapons.
It is believed that with the huge number of civilian casualties, which some independent bodies have said are much higher than what the military released, the federal government may be looking beyond military options to secure the area. These include the deployment of surveillance equipment and erecting a wall across portions of the border.
“We are studying the example of the United States along its southern border with Mexico, which has been demarcated by fence and walls to stop the flow of guns, drugs and unwanted persons from crossing the border. The situation in the area (North East) is unsus-tainable and we cannot continue to expose our people to these dangerous elements. Everything is on the table. We are willing to do anything to secure the lives and property of our citizens.”
At the height of the smuggling of drugs and arms across the border from Mexico to the United States, the US had built what it called “border fence, rotted fence or border wall” between the two countries to reduce the nefarious activities and aid border control.