By Frank Oshanugor
Official bottlenecks and unmindfulness at the corridors of power which have continued to delay the payment of Duty Travel Allowance (DTA) to security operatives on joint border operations at some Nigeria’s land border towns may stoke an increase in illegal arms smuggling into the country as the morale of officials are waning.
Investigation by SECURITY REPORTERS.com revealed that in spite of several media reports in the past, about the non payment or delay in payment of the statutory allowances promised the officers of the various security agencies, the situation has remained the same.
From our investigations, while officers and men of the Customs and Immigrations were paid their arrears up to August, 2020 their police counterparts appeared to be the worst affected as they are said to be owed more arrears than Immigrations and Customs.
Some Immigrations personnel who spoke to SECURITY REPORTERS.com anonymously, alleged that they were paid their DTA last August, which means that between September 2020 and May, 2021, they are being owed arrears.
According to some of them, the non payment of the mandatory allowance for such a long period had unarguably affected the morale of the operatives in the performance of their duties due to the financial constraint the situation has imposed on them. May of them are now in debts and unable to meet up with rent payments to their landlords, hotel accommodation and feeding. The allowances were meant to take care of their personnels’ accommodation and feeding needs. Each officer is said to be entitled to N12,000 while junior ranks are placed on N6,000 a day.
The security operatives drawn from the Immigration, Customs and Police at the dawn of border closure in August, 2019 were to man key towns affected by the land border closure and the towns included Idi Iroko, Seme, Jibia, Kamba, Kongolom, Maigatari and Illela.
Our investigation has further revealed that while the security operatives are being asked by their different agencies to exercise some patience, the concerned Federal Government agencies such as the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Nigeria Customs Service and Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) do not seem to appreciate the enormous danger such delay in payment could cause.
Some officers who spoke to SECURITY REPORTERS.com feared that many of the junior ranks might likely compromise their positions by not doing much to prevent smugglers who are illegally bringing arms into the country particularly now that the borders have officially been reopened.
A good number of them argued that even if the operation has been redesigned and renamed Joint Border Patrol with operatives to continue surveillance and counter-smuggling activities, with a view to possibly make it a normal routine duty, the bulk of arrears owed the operatives should be paid before anything.
The joint border patrol is an offshoot of joint border drill which was the operation launched to close the borders. In addition to other responsibilities, the operatives were tasked to checkmate the illegal importation of arms and contraband goods as parts of efforts to address the rising security challenges while at the same time boosting local production of assorted food items like rice, oil among others.