Risks and Social Repercussions Inherent in Smuggling: A Sociological Investigation of Badagry-Seme and Owode –Idiroko International Border Communities in Nigeria
Matthias Olufemi Dada Ojo*
Department of Sociology, College of Business and Social Sciences, Crawford University of the Apostolic Faith Mission, Igbesa, Ogun State, Nigeria
This study investigated the risks and the social repercussions or effects of smuggling. Survey design was utilizes and qualitative method was used. Multi-stage sampling was employed in the selection of the respondents who participated in the study. Fifty youth smugglers were selected using snowballing and fifteen officers and thirty-six community residents were selected using convenience sampling. In-depth Interview, Focus Group Discussion, Key Informant Interview and Photographs were the research tools employed to gather data and information utilized in the study. All the qualitative data were content analysed. The study discovered that smuggling poses many risks to the youth smugglers, the Customs Officers and the community residents at large as explained in this study. The social repercussions or effects of smuggling were also discussed. The study concluded that: the risks involved in smuggling did not, in anyway, discourage the youths involved; smuggling has led to the educational backwardness of the communities near the borders; increased the rate of teenage pregnancy; sexual immorality and spread of HIV/AIDS and increased the drugs and alcoholic consumption among the youths living in border communities. The recommendations discussed at the end of the paper would ameliorate the problem of smuggling among the youths involved.
Risks, Repercussions, Youths, Smuggling and Border Communities
Received: February 27, 2015
Accepted: March 9, 2015
Published online: March 12, 2015
@ 2015 The Authors. Published by American Institute of Science. This Open Access article is under the CC BY-NC license. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Youth is a controversial concept in Sociology, Criminology and other Social Sciences. The definition of youth varies from one culture to another, from one society to another and from one region of the world to another. However, definitions are necessary in any discipline (Ball and Curry, 1995).Youth is a person in transition from childhood to adulthood (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2011). According to Women’s Refugee Commission (2012), it is a stage of life marking the transition from childhood to adulthood (physically, mentally and socially).It is applicable to a boy or girl who is in such transition from childhood to adulthood (Integration Labour Force Survey, 2001).
Transition among youths is modified through different cultural patterns. The sexual transition peculiarities – the point at which a child becomes an adolescent and possibly sexually active – are due to social and cultural factors more than to biological process (Moreno, 2009). Youths are like luminal entities who are neither here nor there; they are betwixt and between the positions assigned and arrayed by law, custom, convention and ceremonial (Turner, 1969). The youths fall betwixt and between the group of the children and the group of the adults.
However, youths are associated with some social problems in the society. For instance, youths are usually associated with violence,(Yonas et al 2005), homelessness (Greene et al.,2003; Roinn and Leanai, 2001), gang (Ball and Curry, 1995; Home Government,2011) and crime (Bessant,1999; Pelser,2008; Ashford,2007; Adamson,2003; Felice,2006; Hine and Williams, 2007; Holly Richter-White 2003; Palmary and Moat 2002; Goldson and Jamieson ,2002). Crime, especially the economic related ones, is the prominent area where youths in the society engaged themselves. This serves as a survival strategy for them. Smuggling is one of those economic crimes. Smuggling is a common economic crime among the youths living around the border communities in Nigeria. Unfortunately, smuggling has created a lot of risks to the youths involved, the law enforcement officers and community people at large. Moreover, the effects or the repercussions of smuggling are also very great. Hence, this paper discussed the risks and repercussions entailed in smuggling as contained in the survey reports obtained from Badagry-Seme and Owode- Idiroko border communities.
1.1. Research Questions
What are the various risks entailed in smuggling?
What are repercussions of smuggling?
1.2. Objectives of The Study
To find out the various risks entailed in smuggling.
To investigate the repercussions of smuggling.
2. Literature Review
2.1. Smuggling as a World Phenomenon
Smuggling is a world-wide activity which cuts across all the nations of the world. It usually occurs between rich countries and the poor countries (Bredow, 1998). The unequal distribution of wealth across the world places some countries in a position of dependency. Such countries develop as major centres of international smuggling, while other countries serve as intermediate centres that provide channels to the less developed countries; still, other countries emerge as the true beneficiaries of a world – wide smuggling market (Deflem and Henry – Turner, 2001).
2.2. Smuggling Between Us and Mexico
The most prominent trans-border crime of smuggling occurs between United States of America and the Mexico international border in the south. The major smuggling between these two countries is recorded in area of drugs. It is recorded that cocaine arriving in Mexico by land, sea and air route is often transferred over land to U.S land border in commercial trucks with hidden compartments concealed within legitimate cargo (U.S Department of State, 2008).
The problem of drug trafficking between U.S – Mexico border has sparked off another crime of firearms trafficking. According to International Debates (2010), the international drug intelligence centre assesses that Mexican drug trafficking organizations are the primary participants in, and beneficiaries of, firearms trafficking along the U.S- Mexico border. The close link between firearms trafficking and drug trafficking on the south-west border has facilitated the acquisition of increasingly powerful and sophisticated weapons by drug trafficking organizations.
Drug smuggling has been a serious contending international issue between U.S and Mexico for years. The method being used involved the concealment of the drug substance among truck loads of pepper, banana, toilet paper, and medical supplies entering from Mexico. These cargo trucks are used to move drug in large quantities (Berestein, 2010). Although, the US Immigration and Custom Enforcements (ICE) acknowledged the mutual security benefits through partnership with Mexican law enforcement agencies, still more bilateral efforts from the two countries are needed to have a huge victory (Forman, 2009).
However, the drug trade in Mexico –US border is rife with violence for decades, and particularly worrisome are those tactics intended to intimidate police and public officials and law-abiding citizens. The intimidation of public and police official through violence or the threat of violence has more insidious side .There is money for co-operation and negotiation: threat to their lives or their families, is a much more widespread and effective tactics, and this likely accounts for a plurality of corrupt law enforcement officials in Mexico which has negated the effort of having a secured border between Mexico and United States of America (Perkins and Placido, 2010)
Drug smuggling between U.S-Mexico borders is not a masculine dominated enterprise. Women’s involvement in drug trafficking in recent years has been expanded dramatically. Economic and cultural factors strongly shape women’s involvement in drug smuggling and the effects of smuggling on their lives, but these factors and effects vary significantly, depending on women’s social class, position and place within drug organization (Cambell, 2008)
Cambell (2008) argues that among these women are female drug lords, middle –level go- between or diplomats, socio figure head Prestanombres, money launderers, legitimate business owners and supportive female relatives in drug families. At the low level are women who act as ‘mules’ transporters of drug across the border and cross country.
Colombia is another country which gives US a problem in area of drug trafficking. In recent years, Colombian cocaine smugglers have developed semi-submersible boats which carry most of the cocaine being moved to US and they are so successful at evading detection (Dunnigan, 2009). It is reported that over 120 of these submersible boats have been detected by U.S. Navy off the coast between Mexico and Colombia.
Another notable trans-border crime between U.S. and Mexico borders is auto-mobile theft. Asiwaju (2004) posits that vehicles taken by organized criminals disappear on the U.S. side only to reappear either in dismantled parts or in units on the Mexican side.
Smuggling of agricultural and wildlife goods is also a widespread phenomenon between U.S. and Mexico international borders. Small amounts of smuggled goods occasionally move over pedestrian and personal vehicle path ways, but commercial volumes of smuggled goods are likely to be transported through international shipping channels (Ferrier, 2009)
Ferrier (2009) also posits that animals and meat products, plant products, fruit products, noxious weeds and wildlife animals are transported between Mexico and U.S. borders on regular basis. Ferrier (2009) argues that the method being used involved the falsification so that the product or country of origin is misrepresented or goods can be trans-shipped through countries that do not prohibit imports of the goods.
2.3. Smuggling in South East Asia
Tagliacozzo (2002) argues that smuggling is by no means a new issue in South East Asian part of the world; states and proto- states polities have been identifying and attempting to hunt down smugglers for many centuries. One trend (smuggling) that stands out is that of narcotic trafficking in south East Asia, as in the nineteenth century with Chinese and Armenian trade networks.
Tagliacozzo (2002) posits that a second contraband trade that is instructive in a comparison of historical and contemporary patterns of smuggling in the region is human trafficking. The movement of human beings across boundaries in Southeast Asia, both legally and illegally, also has a long history in this part of the world. The contributions of Sarvananthan (1999) to the problem of smuggling in south Asia are recorded in area of contraband trading between Sri Lanka and countries like Singapore, Dubai, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong , and of course India which recorded the highest volume. Sarvananthan (1999) argues that the impact of contribution trade is far greater on the contraband recipient country than the source country.
Wahab (2006) argues that in the middle east of the world, the prominent smuggling activities are in area of Iraq oil. According to him, open border facilitated oil smuggling, especially along sparsely-populated Iraq-Syrian frontier and in the similar case, much of the oil smuggled from southern Iraq ends up in Iran. According to Wahab (2006), the exploitation and diversion of oil resources hurts Iraq’s economic, social and political development.
2.4. Smuggling of Liquor in South Africa
Liquor smuggling is a common crime in South Africa. Erasmus (1994) argued that in accordance with the former racial and economic policies of South Africa, Africans in townships were not allowed to participate lawfully in formal or informal business activities even though economic survival was, without exception, the primary motive for entering the business sector. The only option left was to operate under ground, and consequently, a subculture of smuggling developed. Erasmus (1994) discovers that children played an important role in the smuggling subculture of liquor in South Africa. According to him, they mainly operated as look-outs and runners for the liquor smugglers. This is very similar to the assistance given by the village dwellers between Nigeria and Republic of Benin borders to the smugglers, in area of vital information as to the movements and locations of law enforcement agents, most especially when federal patrol teams from customs services are around. And in addition, they help to create illegal routes for easy passage of these smugglers (Oladeji, 2010).
2.5. Smuggling in West African Countries
Among the West-African population, borders are adopted as potential resource (Nugent, 2002) and because most of inter-regional trade in Africa is unrecorded, it consists of smuggling (Golup and Mbaye, 2009). Smuggling is a pervasive phenomenon among the West-African Political States. For instance, there is incessant smuggling of cocoa from Ghana to Cote d’ IVoire where prices are slightly higher (Graphic Ghana, 2010) and the smuggling activities across Nigeria and Benin Republic borders are quite visible phenomenon (Oladeji, 2010).
2.6. The Effects of Smuggling
The effects that smuggling generates are felt in social, economic and political sectors of the country. In the social sector, smuggling generates insecurity to the society like other crimes in the society (Soyombo, 2009). The unchecked smuggling may lead to social redefinition of this crime. Many people do not see or perceive smuggling as a crime (The Sunday Punch, 2009; Williams 2010; Oladeji, 2010). Such redefinition may cause breakdown of laws and orders. Smuggling also incites corruption of state officials, customs and border control officers and politicians (Lithuanian Free Market Institute, 2004). Smuggling has a very great social cost in term of death. Many valuable lives of smugglers, officials of the customs and other law enforcement agents and innocent community people have been lost to smuggling through ‘gun face off’ between smugglers and team of law enforcement agents. According to Kukhianidze et al (2004), violence in some regions of the world are directly attributed to the smuggling activities in such regions of the world and some contrabands carried by organized criminal groups may fetch them profits to finance other deadly criminal activities (Lithuanian Free Market Institute, 2004).
According to Lithuanian Free Market Institute (2004), smuggling has negative effects, economically, on the state and business. Contraband goods compete with legitimate goods and reduce the profits of law abiding companies. The taxes being paid by the home industries to the government are usually affected by the reduction in the profits made by the home industries as a result of the smuggling into the country, the goods also produced in the country. Lemieux (2007) gives the example of the taxes on tobacco which reduced drastically in 1990s as a result of smuggling of tobacco into Quebec province of Canada. Gruber et al (2003) explained further the argument of Lemieux (2007) that in the face of enormous smuggling of these cigarettes, the federal and provincial taxes were halved in 1994 and that smuggled cigarettes represented roughly one third of all the cigarettes consumed that year.
Another effect of smuggling is the reduction in the volume of formal trade among the countries of the world. Sayeed (2005) argued that in 2005, the total amount of informal trade between India and Pakistan ranged between US$1-2 billion and this took place in form of smuggling. Lithuanian Free Market Institute, 2004) argued that smuggling leads to budget revenue losses to the home governments, and so makes it possible to obtain goods on a completely uncontrolled illegal market and increases the accessibility of some products like tobacco and alcohol to underage persons.
In Nigeria, huge amount of money are being lost to the activities of smugglers. This is visible in area of duties evasion and duties under payment (The Sunday punch, 2009; The Guardian, 2009). The efforts of the Nigerian government to check the nefarious activities of smugglers are making expenditure on security to be swollen up with huge allocation. This cost can be conceptualized in terms of the expenditure on security agencies (Soyombo, 2009). Furthermore, the illegal importation of some foreign goods and products is ‘killing’ the spirit of home made similar goods and products. For instance, the massive smuggling of second-hand textile materials has finally wrecked the growth of textile industries at home (Irin 2003; The Guardian, 2009), Finally, smuggling cumulates to making Nigeria, an economic dumping ground for foreign products, and creates a discouraging environment to the foreign economic investors (Soyombo, 2009).
There are political effects of smuggling too: Smuggling will send signal to the international community that the country is a ‘weak sister’ who lacks ability to control her borders and international boundaries. Smuggling may create bitter relationship towards the neighboring country. For instance, Nigeria has demonstrated bitterness towards Republic of Benin on several occasions because the latter failed to check smuggling into Nigeria territories. Because of this, Nigeria has to close her border against Republic of Benin on many occasions.
Finally, if smuggling, as a crime, is not properly checked, it could constitute a direct threat to the legitimacy of government, casting aspersions on the capacity of the people in government to govern (Soyombo, 2009). A critical examination of the crime of smuggling across the borders shows that a lot is yet to be done. The information on smugglers and their activities are very scanty (The Sunday Punch, 2009) and without adequate information, it will be so difficult controlling this ‘ Age Old Border Crime’.
3. Research Methodology
3.1. Research Design
In this study, survey design was adopted. It involved the collection of information from a sample of individuals through their responses to questions about themselves or others. (Schutt, 2004). Both qualitative and quantitative techniques were employed to ensure proper validity and reliability.
3.2. The Study Areas
This research work cut across two states in Nigeria. The study area was Badagry/Seme in Lagos State of Nigeria. The transportation corridor that was examined in this area was Badagry/Seme transportation corridor.
Secondly, Idiroko area of Ogun State of Nigeria was another study area. The chosen transportation corridor for this area was Owode- Idi-Iroko which links to Sango-Otta.
3.3. The Study Population
3.3.1. Youth Smugglers
These were the youth smugglers, both male and female, from 15 years to 40 years, educated and uneducated, who come from various ethnic groups in Nigeria and Benin Republic.
3.3.2. The Law Enforcement Officers
The Law Enforcement Agencies comprised the officials of the Nigeria Customs Services and the National Drugs and Law Enforcement Agency. These two Law Enforcement Agencies have their duty posts along Badagry-Seme border in Lagos and along Owode-Idiroko border in Ogun State.
3.3.3. The Community People
The community people comprised the indigenes and non indigenes living in towns/villages along the Badagry-Seme and Owode-Idiroko borders and the adjacent towns /villages within the territories of Benin Republic. They were adults (male/female) from different ethnic groups who have resided in the community at least three years prior to the research
3.4. Sampling Technique and Sampling Size
3.4.1. Seme and Idiroko Borders
Seme and Idi-Iroko borders are the most popular borders in Nigeria where trans-border criminal activities are being carried out en-mass. Both were purposely selected because they served the interest of this research work. Purposive sampling used the judgment of an expert in selecting cases with a specific purpose in mind. In purposive sampling, the researcher selects sampling units based on his/her judgment of what units will facilitate an investigation (Neuman, 2003; Adler and Clark, 1999).
3.4.2. Youth Smugglers
Being a hidden population, snowball sampling was used in selecting the smugglers. Snowball sampling involved using some members of the groups of interest to identify other members (Adler and Clark, 1999). Fifty (50) youth smugglers were sampled at Badagry/Seme border and Owode/Idiroko border in Lagos State and Ogun State respectively
3.4.3. Law Enforcement Officers
Being available subjects, simple random sampling was used in the selection of the law enforcement officials that received and filled the questionnaires administered. Fifteen (15) officers were randomly selected from both of the Nigeria Customs Service and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency(NDLEA) at Badagry/Seme border in Lagos State and at Owode/ Idi-Iroko border in Ogun State. Fifteen officers were picked from the lists obtained through simple random sampling. No replacement was made.
3.4.4. Border Dwellers (Community People)
Thirty-six(36) people were sampled among the border dwellers, living in towns/villages along the borders in Badagry/Seme community areas and Owode/Idi-Iroko community areas and the adjacent towns/villages within the Benin Republic. A convenience sampling technique was used. A convenience sampling (sometimes called an available subject sample) is a group of elements (often people) that are readily accessible to, and therefore convenient for, the researcher (Adler and Clark, 1999).
3.5. Methods of Data Collection
Primary data were collected and collated for this research work. The primary data were collected with the use of In-depth Interview, Focus Group Discussion, Key Informant Interview, Observation and Photography.
3.5.1. In-Depth Interview
In-depth interviews (IDIS) were conducted among fifty (50) professional smugglers at Badagry- Seme border transportation corridor and Owode -Idi-Iroko border transportation corridor.
3.5.2. Focus Group Discussions
Focus Group Discussions were also conducted to gather information and data for this study. Focus Group Discussions were guided discussions among potential respondents. They were unstructured group interviews in which the focus group leader actively encouraged discussions among participants on the topic of interest. The Focus groups were used to collect qualitative data, using open-ended questions posed by the researcher who acted as group leader (Schutt, 2004). Three (3) Focus Group Discussions were conducted in the process of gathering qualitative data for this work among the Nigeria customs officials. Two(2) were conducted at Seme/Badagry transportation corridor at two different sessions with six(6) officers in attendance at first sitting, and five (5) officers in attendance at the second sitting. The third one was conducted at Owode-Idiroko with four (4) officers in attendance. The total number of the officers who participated in the three Focus Group Discussions was fifteen (15).
3.5.3. Key Informant Interviews
Key informants interviews were also used to gather information which proved very vital for the success of this research work. Key informant is a knowledgeable insider who knew the group’s behaviours and was willing to share access and insights with the researcher. Key informant provides answers to questions that arise in the course of the research (Scuhutt, 2004).Thirty-six (36) key informants were contacted along the two transportation corridors. Twenty key informants (21) were contacted along Seme/Badagry transportation corridor and fifteen (15) key informants along Owode/Idiroko transportation corridor.
3.5.4. Observations and Photographs
Observation method was employed and mechanical devices (photo camera) were used. The photographs of the events, and the things related to smuggling were taken. The photographs were subjected to content analysis.
3.6. Methods of Data Analysis
The qualitative data which emerged from in depth-interviews, Focus Group Discussions, Key Informant Interviews and photographs were analyzed through content analysis. The in-depth-Interviews were translated and transcribed. Univariate analyses were used in interpreting socio-demographic characteristics of the youth smugglers, using frequency tables.
4. Results and Discussions of the Findings
4.1. Socio-Demographic Characteristics of the Youth Smugglers
The study considered the variables such as respondents’ sex, age, level of education, marital status, income from present job and finally, the perceived economic status of the respondents. The sample size of the respondents (youth smugglers) studied was fifty (50).
The sex distribution of the respondents shows that 96 percent were male, while 4 percent were female. The result shows that majority of the youth smugglers were male. It implies that smuggling was dominated by the masculine world. It has been argued that, virtually in every society for which crime records exists, the prevalence of crime and violence is greater among males compared to female offenders (Ashford, 2007). Smuggling is an energetic and violent crime which is known to be dominated by males. Smuggling activities, therefore, were carried out majorly by males.
|Socio – Demographic Characteristics||N||%|
|Female Total||2 50||100.00|
|15 - 20||34||68.00|
|26 - 30||4||8.00|
|31 - 35||4||8.00|
|36 - 40||4||8.00|
|No formal Education||4||8.00|
|5||Monthly Income From Trade|
|N10,000 – N50,000||32||64.00|
|N51,000 – N100,000||2||4.00|
|N101,000 – N150,000||8||16.00|
|N151,000 – N200,000||2||4.00|
|6||Socio –Economic Status|
The age distribution of the respondents shows that those within the age range of 15 years to 20 years were 68 percent. Those between 21 years and 25 years, 26 years and 30 years, 31 years and 35 years and 36 years and 40 years were 8 percent each. A cursory look at the table of frequency shows that majority of the youth smugglers were within the age bracket of 15 years and 20 years. Age is an important factor to be considered in the study of crime especially, the violent and energy demanding crimes. Energetic and violent crimes are usually carried out by the young people in the society. Hence, a crime like smuggling demands energy and most of the time violent actions or displays and can only be carried out successfully by the young people who still have the vibrant and strong energy bubbling up in their bodies.
Educational qualification of the youth smugglers was another variable considered in this study. The results of the analyses show that 8 percent had no education, 14 percent had primary school certificate, 76 percent had senior school certificate education and 2 percent had a bachelor degree. The results of the analyses imply that the majority of the youth smugglers were not educated to the tertiary educational level. Youths who are well educated are expected to be committed to conformity in the society, because they have invested much in education and there is promising future of holding good jobs. Individuals who have not invested much in the conventional types of activity like education may not be committed to conformity in the society, because they may not have much to lose when they are apprehended and sentenced for committing crime in the society.
The marital status of the youth smugglers was probed in the study. The results show that 36 percent of the youth smugglers were married, while 64 percent of them were single.
It was considered imperative to investigate the monthly income (i.e. profit from the trade) of the youth smugglers interviewed in this study. The monthly income distributions show that 4 percent were unable to decide or have accurate figure of their monthly income from smuggling. 4 percent earned below N10,000 every month, 64 percent (the highest) earned between N10,000 and N50,000 every month, 4 percent earned between N51,000 and N100,000, 16 percent earned between N101,000 and N150,000, 4 percent earned between N151,000 and N200,000 and finally another 4 percent earned above N200,000. Virtually all the youth smugglers interviewed were of the opinion that the present incomes made every month were, at least averagely good enough for them. Those that were doing one job or the other prior the time they started smuggling claimed that the present incomes from smuggling were better that the past incomes they made.
When requested from the respondents to say what they perceived of their socio-economic statuses, none of the respondents signified himself / herself to be high in socio-economic status. 88 percent (the majority of the respondents) were of the opinion that they were, on average, on socio-economic status and 12 percent perceived their socio-economic status to be low. A critical observation made during the in-depth interviews shows that profits made from smuggling were used to cater for the exigent needs of the youth smugglers and none was able to show the accumulation of wealth which may possibly place them on high socio-economic status in the society.
4.2. Risks Involved in Smuggling
Soma (2013) argued that people’s desires can make them venture past the limits of safety, due to their poverty, in pursuit of a rewarding experience and that the levels of poverty and risk perception in developing countries have contributed to our anthropological understanding of risk perception.
There is no doubt that smuggling is a risky adventure. However, the study requested that the respondents signify whether smuggling is a risky adventure or not. When the responses were analyzed, the bar chart below shows the analyses:
The above chart shows that 48 respondents among the youth smugglers agreed that smuggling is a very risky undertaking. This accounted for 96% of the entire respondents. However, 2 respondents (4%) claimed that smuggling was not all that risky. The overwhelming majority who claimed that smuggling was very risky actually confirmed the general knowledge of smuggling, being a very risky adventure.
In order to support this general knowledge, a youth smuggler was of the opinion that smuggling entails a lot of risks thus:
"There were a lot of risks in smuggling. Smuggling itself is synonymous with risk".
The first noted risk in smuggling was the seizure of the smuggled goods and the confiscation of the vehicles or motor cycles used to smuggle the goods. Seizure of smuggled goods has made many youth smugglers to go bankrupt.
A youth smuggler told a story of a young lady who was a smuggler and lost everything she had to smuggling. He narrated the story thus:
"Smuggling of goods can make one rich quickly and at the same time destroy one’s fortune. I knew a lady in the past who told me she had `about 12 million naira in her account sometime in the past, but lost the money she had to seizures of goods by the Nigeria Customs Officers. She eventually went bankrupt and later fell sick and died. She ought to have invested the money in a clean and legal business. Smuggling is not something one can do continuously. It is advisable to make your money in smuggling and divert the money into a legitimate business".
A youth smuggler interviewed also had this to say on good seizure as a major risk involved in smuggling:
"It is a risky work because they sometimes seized our goods. At times, after we have ‘booked’ for the goods, there may be information that comptroller is coming for an official patrol, anybody who ‘crosses’ goods that day may have his goods seized. The Customs Officers normally inform us whenever the comptroller would visit them. They would pass the information around or block the road with their patrol vehicles, ordering the vehicles with smuggled goods to go back to the border".
Another youth smuggler corroborated seizure as a major risk involved in smuggling:
"Seizure was one of the major risks involved in smuggling. The owners of the goods might collapse and get heart attack or high blood pressure, if their goods were seized by Customs Officers".
Another youth smuggler substantiated the seizure factor as a risk thus:
"I believe smuggling is risky. The goods may be seized and the money for the fine or penalty may be even more than the cost of the goods. The Customs Officers have seized goods of many smugglers in the past".
A Lady smuggler gave a vivid description of what some Customs Officers normally did to the seized goods. Such goods at times were usually thrown into lagoon, especially at Gbaji customs check point:
"When you are caught by Customs Officers, it is better not to argue with them. Just talk to them gently and negotiate with them on the money they would collect. Otherwise, if you argue, they would just take your goods and throw them into Oosa (lagoon) near the check point".
The findings made during the survey revealed that at times the seized goods may be piled up at the customs checkpoints, where they would be eventually taken to the area comptroller’s office.
Figure 4:26 and Figure 4:27 were the photographs of the seized smuggled goods at Gbaji customs check point and Area Comptroller’s office at Seme Border.
Accidents were also identified as a major risk involved in smuggling. According to the youth smugglers interviewed, accidents could occur during the time when youth smugglers were trying to escape from being arrested by Customs Officers. Moreover, accidents could also occur ordinarily when transporting the smuggled goods to the destinations of their deliveries.
A youth narrated accident as one of the risks involved in smuggling, in his response when being interviewed:
"It is very risky work. Tyre may burst when on speed and this may cause accident. When we ‘cross’ goods in the night, cold weather can affect your health. Night flies can enter your eyes and as a result of this, you may lose control of your riding – usually, 12 mid-nights – 2:00 am was the time range we normally smuggled turkey".
Another youth smuggler testified that accident formed a serious risk:
"Accident can occur on the road. Chain may cut asunder when you are riding motor cycle. The smuggled goods can also cause accident".
Another youth gave the similar comment on accident as a risk:
"Accidents were very common risks. Tokunbo (second hand cars) may knock you and the smuggled goods off from the motor cycle you are riding".
A youth smuggler confirmed that he had been involved in an accident in the past when trying to smuggle some bags of rice across the border. Below was the testimony he gave:
"Accident was one of the risks. I had been involved in an accident before. My right leg was seriously injured. It took two weeks before the wound was healed".
In order to confirm his statement, the respondent showed the scar of the wound and by the permission of the respondent, the photograph was taken.The figure below was the photograph.
Another accident signified during the survey was the fire accident. Fire accident was a common risk involved in smuggling of petroleum products from Nigeria to Benin Republic. A youth smuggler confirmed a fire incident he had witnessed in the past in his comments below:
"The petroleum products can catch fire if not properly handled. One happened in the past. The vehicle the smugglers were using to carry petrol accidentally entered into a big pot hole. Some kegs of petroleum fell off from the vehicle and the product immediately caught fire from a nearby naked fire. One man was burnt to death".
Fortunately, when on the field survey, two burnt vehicles were discovered and investigation made about them revealed that the vehicles caught fire when they were used to smuggle petroleum products. Figures 4:29 and 4:30 below were the photographs of the vehicles taken at Idi-Iroko border and Oke-Odan respectively.
A further investigation revealed that robbery was another risk that smugglers normally faced when crossing goods across the border. A youth smuggler explained this in his response:
"Another risk was that of robbery. Robbers often attacked us. The money we wanted to use to buy goods may be taken away from us at gun point by robbers. Hence, robbery is another risk that we normally underwent in the course of smuggling goods. This had happened to us on many occasions in the past".
In a similar response, a youth smuggler responded that community area boys called (Aigbanos ) often forcefully took away their goods from them when passing through bushes in their communities. He gave the following comments to substantiate this:
"Sometimes, area boys in the communities did hijack and carry away the goods we were crossing. This is one of the risks we faced when smuggling goods".
The investigations carried out really confirmed that smuggling involved violence. There were series of gunshots exchange between the Customs Officers and smugglers in the past.
A youth smuggler identified gunshots from the Customs Officers as the most deadly risk involved in smuggling:
"Gunshots are the most deadly risks involved in smuggling. Customs can shoot one dead in the process. For instance, a man was killed about four months ago. He was not aware that the Customs Officers had ‘prohibited’ the crossing of goods that particular day because the comptroller was coming for inspection. They pursued the man and the Customs Officers eventually shot the man dead instantly".
Another youth confirmed gunshots as risk involved in smuggling in the response offered during the interview:
"I have been pursued in the past by customs officers and they eventually attacked me with gunshots".
Another youth smuggler gave an evidential statement on gunshots as a risk involved in smuggling thus:
"Smuggling is very risky. For instance, my boss and I had been attacked in the past with gunshots from the Customs Officers".
Another youth smuggler gave a similar response:
"If the Customs Officers heard that goods were being crossed through the bushes, the officers often laid ambush and attacked the smugglers with gunshots".
Another youth confirmed that, though he had not been attacked in the past by Customs Officers with gunshots, he had heard that such things happened to other smugglers:
"Although, I have not been attacked by gunshots before by Customs Officers, I had heard that the Customs Officers often shot their guns to attack smugglers".
An investigation showed that at times Customs Officers may not deliberately shoot at the smugglers, but when an attempt was being made to shoot at the tyres of their vehicles to get them arrested, bullet may stray and accidentally hit such smugglers. A youth gave a similar response in the interview conducted thus:
"Smuggling is very risky. Customs Officers can shoot guns anytime. Customs may want to shoot the tyres of the vehicle but the bullet may stray and kill the smugglers".
Finally, a youth smuggler agreed in his response as stated below that smuggling is a total risk taking adventure:
"I agree that it is a risk taking adventure. Smuggling may lead to untimely death of the smugglers. The death may come as a result of accident or gunshots from deadly Customs Officers".
It was equally reported during the interview that smuggling may endanger the health of the smuggler. For instance, shock may cause psychological problems for the smugglers. The emotions of the smugglers may be seriously affected.
A smuggler narrated an incidence to substantiate the psychological effects of smuggling on the smugglers as follows:
"There was a time the Customs Officers pursued me with their patrol vehicle when I was trying to escape with my vehicle and the smuggled goods. I was speeding on without knowing that I had exceeded the speedometer. When I finally escaped, I parked the vehicle in a hide out and I came out shivering; being overwhelmed with fear because of the incidence. If accident happened that day, I would have died instantly".
In another interview we had with another youth smuggler, the stresses involved in smuggling and many sleepless nights that youth smugglers normally experienced was considered another risk to their health.
The youth smuggler interviewed gave the following response to justify such risk:
"Another risk involved in smuggling was the stress and the effects on the health of the smugglers. Continuous work without rest, because of the fear of being displaced by other smugglers, normally affect the health of the smugglers. You may be inside a bush for days (both day and night), when the ways were blocked by the Customs Officers, without any chance for sleeping or resting. This does affect the health of the smugglers".
Further investigation conducted unfolded that some perishable goods can spoil in the course of getting them smuggled across borders. Some youth smugglers explained that some perishable goods i.e. frozen food (turkey and chicken) may get spoilt, if they were not delivered on time as a result of road block by Customs Officers.
A youth smuggler explained in details as reflected in his response below:
"If care is not taken, you can lose some goods, especially, perishable goods like turkey and chicken. If you load cartoons of turkey or chicken for crossing and the Customs Officers were able to block your route, you may be in the bush for three days, and in the process, the food items would get spoilt. This was the reason why I did not usually cross turkey or chicken".
In other to support this, a youth smuggler offered the similar comment when being interviewed for the study:
"Crossing Bags of Rice is better than crossing cartoons of turkey or chicken. Rice cannot spoil. However, if one crosses Bags of Rice through waterways in Yeketeme or Farishime, the water may sometimes make the Bags of Rice to be damp. There was a time this happened to us. We had to sun-dry the whole Bags of Rice for a week before we re-bagged them again".
When carrying out further investigation on the risk some smuggled goods may pose to the public, it was critically observed that the ways some food items were being re-packaged to facilitate their easy passage in smuggling may eventually lead to the contaminations of such food items. From the previous comment made by the youth smuggler, re-packaging the Bags of Rice may lead to the contamination of the food item in the process. This may cause food poisoning. The environment and the ways those food items were re-packaged were not hygienic. For instance, a figure below was a photograph of a Bag of Rice being re-packaged in non-hygienic way at Badagry community.
The study was very aware that Customs Officers also have the risks they face. The study interviewed the youth smugglers to identify and give comments on the risks that Customs Officers themselves were exposed to during the course of performing their official duties.
A youth smuggler made mention of accident as one of the risks that Customs Officers normally face, especially when pursuing smugglers to get them arrested with their smuggled goods. He gave a response to illustrate such risk:
"Accident, when patrolling or chasing the smugglers, is a big risk to Customs Officers. An officer fell off a patrol vehicle sometimes ago when their patrol vehicle was involved in an accident. A smuggler may also knock down Customs Officers with vehicle".
Another risk mentioned by the youth smugglers in which Customs Officers were normally involved in their attempt to stop smugglers was reprisal attacks from smugglers through gunshots. A youth smuggler gave a response to support such risk as written below:
"Many Customs Officers have been killed by smugglers in the past. Many smugglers have attacked Customs Officers in the past and killed some of them. Some of these smugglers have traditional bullet proofs which protected them from Customs Officers’ gunshots".
The study discovered also that Customs Officers were often attacked by the community people and many of them had died as a result of this in the past. An evidential response was given by a youth smuggler to substantiate this:
"The smuggling activity is very risky for the law enforcement agents too (Customs Officers). Sometimes, if the officers refused to take money to release the goods seized from smugglers, the smugglers and the community people who often assisted smugglers, may attack the Customs Officers with matchets, sticks and charms, especially with a charm called Mafenukeje – a charmed matchet which is very poisonous to the blood system".
In a similar development, a report was received that community people often attacked Customs Officers when such officers committed indiscriminate killing of community people in the course of fighting smugglers in gun ‘battle’.
A youth smuggler gave a testimony of such attack on customs officers in 2012:
"The Customs Officers working around the border also have the risks they faced. At times, when a Customs Officer committed an indiscriminate killing of a community member, the other community members often rise up to attack the Customs Officers involved which may lead to the death of some of them. It happened at Ilashe in 2012. I was a witness to the incidence. It happened in the night".
A profound finding also exposed another risk which Customs Officers normally faced in their efforts to control smuggling across the borders. Spell casting was another risk identified by youth smugglers as one of the risks that Customs Officers were often involved. A command tone (Mayehun) can be used by smugglers on Customs Officers. Insanity may be cast on the Customs Officers who confronted smugglers. A spell may also be cast on a Customs Officer to be shooting gun at other Customs Officers. A youth smuggler interviewed gave the following to corroborate this finding:
"Another risk is that of spell. Smugglers at times can cast spell on the Customs Officers. It has happened before. One smuggler cast spell on one Customs Officer when he wanted to shoot gun at the smuggler. Instead of shooting the smugglers, the officer involved started shooting his fellow officers".
A youth smuggler mentioned that intra-conflict may ensue among the Customs Officers as a result of ‘booking’ money given to them by smugglers. The study investigated further on this risk and further responses substantiated the finding.
A youth smuggler interviewed at Badagry gave a comment to illustrate this when he was interviewed:
"Customs Officers have risks they were exposed to. Many occasions, the money from the ‘bookings’, can lead to misunderstanding among them. We had seen in the past when officers were killing one another because of the money taken from smugglers. This is a very common risk".
Another youth smuggler gave a similar response thus:
"The smuggling activity is also risky for the Customs Officers too. ‘Booking’ can lead to conflict or fight among the officers themselves".
Finally, such money collected from smugglers as a form of bribe can lead to the dismissal of officers involved. A youth smuggler gave a comment in respect of this:
"The work is very risky for the Customs Officers also. ‘Booking’ they take is a risk for them. They may be caught and dismissed from work. This is because the money given to them is not remitted to government purse".
In summary, the study requested that youth smugglers indicated whether Customs Officers were equally at risk like them in respect of smuggling activities. The pie chart below indicated the outcomes of their responses.
From the pie chart above, a cursory look shows that 48 respondents (96%) agreed that Customs Officers also faced serious risks in their official duties of stemming down the rate of smuggling. Only 2 respondents (4%) disagreed that they faced serious risks. The overwhelming majority, which agreed that Customs Officers were also exposed to various risks in the process of controlling smuggling, supported the general views of the people on this issue through their various experiences and media reports.
The study sought the ways through which youth smugglers normally averted the risks involved in smuggling. One of the ways of averting the risks involved in smuggling was through proper ‘booking’ of the smuggled goods with Customs Officers. Such money would give assurance of one’s safety and the goods being smuggled.
A youth smuggler gave a one line response to support this way of averting risks:
"The only way of averting the risk of goods seizure is through proper booking".
A youth smuggler gave an evidential statement to support that another way of averting risk was by lying to the Customs Officers during checking of vehicles at the check points. He gave a comment to substantiate this:
"Pastors or Alfas cannot do smuggling. One must know how to dine with the devil very well before one can be a successful smuggler. Lying is one of the ways of escaping the risks".
But in a contradictory response, a youth smuggler was of the opinion that the only way of averting risks is by telling the Customs Officers the truth on what goods you are smuggling to determine how much you would give them as bribe. The statement below was extracted from the interview granted by a youth smuggler to support this way of averting risk:
"Smuggling is only risky for stubborn smugglers. For those of us who know the ‘way’ among smugglers, it is not risky. Just tell them (Customs Officers) what you carry, they would tell you how much to give. Give them the money and they would allow you to go".
Prayers and traditional charms were other ways mentioned by the interviewed smugglers on how the risks can be averted. A youth smuggler gave a response below to corroborate this:
"My brother (referring to the researcher), it is prayer oh! And more also, the traditional charms. It is God himself which makes the traditional charms to work. There was a time Officer X shot gun at me but did not hit me. This Officer X has killed many powerful smugglers in the past. Smugglers that were in many ways, powerful than me in charms. The officer had Atamatase Charm (charm that would never make him to miss the target of his gunshot). This Officer X had killed many smugglers in this area. Thank God, he is now retired".
Another way of averting some risks as mentioned by some youth smugglers was through drugs and alcoholic. They claimed the two would enhance their self confidence to face some challenges and risks involved. A youth smuggler explained this thus:
"Some challenges and risks can be averted by taking alcohol. This normally enhanced our confidence. There is no smuggler that would not take alcohol and drugs. Smuggling is a work which calls for confidence and hard heart. Through confidence from drugs and alcohol, some risks can be averted".
During the Focus Group Discussions conducted among the law enforcement officers, it can be concluded that working at the borders for the officers was very risky. The comments from the discussants given below were enough to justify this. An officer gave a response to justify the risk involved thus:
"Look at my head (showing a very big matchet wound on his head), that was where they matcheted my head at Idi-Iroko, when I was working there. We were trying to arrest smugglers when the community people trooped out to attack us. You can now see that the work is very dangerous and very risky one to do"
FGD / Customs Officer/ Badagry-Seme / 20/4/2014
Another officer gave an evidential statement of the risky nature of working at the border thus:
"Look at that place over there (pointing to a spot a distance off), that was the place they lyched and burnt one of our officers to death. You see now that the work is very risky and dangerous for us to undergo".
FGD / Customs Officer/ Badagry-Seme / 20 / 4 / 2014
Another officer gave a similar comment to support this:
"Idi – Iroko is a very deadly place. It is more deadly than this place (Badagry – seme). The youths at Idi – Iroko were more violent than the youths here. This place (Badagry – seme) has only one major route. But at Idi – Iroko, we have more than 200 routes. All the villagers there were terrible people. The community people were illiterates and saw smuggling as the mean of livelihood. Therefore, any attempt to stop them would always be met with uprising from the community people. The majority of the people there were not educated, so smuggling was what they relied on for their survival".
FGD / Customs Officer/ Badagry – Seme – 20 / 04 / 2014
Another officer concorded:
"Idi-Iroko was a very terrible Place to work. This place is better (Badagry- Seme). There were many bushes everywhere in Idi-Iroko.You can travel through bushes from Idi-Iroko to Ibadan, Ilorin, Jebba etc without running into any custom check point. It was a very terrible place to work. Even, if all the customs officers in Nigeria were to be posted there, they cannot stop smuggling in that place".
FGD / Customs Officer/ Badagry – Seme / 20/4/ 2014
Another officer also concorded thus:
"The Idi – Iroko people were very terrible O! Whenever they knew that our officers were around their smuggling routes, they would send out spies. If the patrol vehicle was one, they knew ten officers would be inside, by then they would come out and attack the officers. But if we have, say like five vehicles (that means 50 officers) they would runaway, waiting for available chance to attack us later’’.
FGD / Customs Officer/ Badagry – Seme / 20 / 04 / 2014
Another officer related an incidence that happened to other officers of the Nigeria customs:
"Idi – Iroko was more terrible than Badagry – Seme corridor. When I was posted to Idi – Iroko, I started work the second day. We went on night patrol with the O/C.When we got to a spot; the O/C said we should stay there. I told him that the place was very dangerous to stay, but he insisted that we must stay there. I took out my agbada and wore it over my uniform and put the gun underneath. All of a sudden, I saw a very bright light a far off and I called the attention of the O/C to it. He thought the light was a head light of a helicopter. Before we knew it, the smugglers just came over us, over powered us and deflated all the tyres of our patrol vehicle. They started saying all kind of things to us. It was I, who summoned courage to talk to them. I said ‘ we are not here to fight you but to do what the government asked us to do and we know there is little we can do to stop you people. So, just take it easy with us. Their leader said ‘you have spoken well and because of what you said, I am giving you N7, 00.00 for your beer. He put down the money and started giving orders to his entire boys on numbers of vehicles that would go to Ibadan, Lagos Ilorin etc, we were just looking at them helplessly.
FGD / customs officer: Badagry – Seme / 20 / 04 / 2014
Still on the risk the officers were involved in, in the process of controlling smuggling, an officer also gave a comment to support attack as a risk, not from the smugglers, but from the community people:
"Yes, there were some community people that normally assisted the youth smugglers. Smugglers often used garage boys. They would give them money, give them India hemp and Drinks and instigated them to attack the Customs Officers on duty".
FGD / Custom Officer/ Badagry – Seme / 20 / 04 / 2014
It was also discovered in the study, that the nature of the work performed by the law enforcement agents, working around the border to stop smuggling, also posed risks to the health of the officers on duty. The nature of their work required that they patrol around the borders all the time in their vehicles.
The figure below was a photograph of patrol vehicle of the Customs Officer taken in the field of study.
Moreover, the Customs Officers at the check points hardly find time to rest or relax. They kept on checking on the vehicles passing along the transportation corridors all the time
The figure below was a photograph of some Customs Officers, standing and walking up and down to check the vehicles passing by.
The argument made by the officers was that, the nature of their work impaired their health. An officer gave an evidential statement to support this in his contributions during the Focus Group Discussion conducted:
"There was a time I was on check point for three months; I could not sit down both days and nights. Eventually, I had a serious back bone injury. I spent
N1.5 million to treat myself. Government did not give me any kobo. It was my colleagues at work that gathered money together to assist me in feeding my wife and children and to take care of other up keeping allowances at home. When I resumed work, no kobo was given to me as assistance from the government. Yet, the government would be expecting us to perform and do the work with motivation’’.
FGD/ Customs Officer/ Badagry – Seme / 20/04/2014
Some key informants who gave information during the survey also testified with examples, to show that risks were surely involved in smuggling.
An informant had this to say:
"Many of our boys in this community had been killed by Custom Officers when trying to circumvent the check points along the border corridors. Our boys are less violent. The Idi-Iroko boys are more volatile than our boys.They killed Customs Officers with impunity. This was the reason why the customs service normally posts more officers to Idi-Iroko than the Seme border. But yet, those boys normally reduced their number with constant killing of these officers".
Key Informant Interview / Male / Seme border / 03/03/2014
Another key informant gave a similar comment:
"One of my ex – pupils in Badagry here was killed in the past by a Ccustom Officer, when he had confrontation with them. This was an example of the risk involved in smuggling and especially for the youths involved’’
Key Informant Interview / female / Badagry / 03/ 03/ 2014
In addition, another key informant talked on the risks that Customs Officers normally faced in the course of carrying out their duties:
‘‘There are many risks that the Customs Officers normally faced. Many of them had been killed in the past. Some had been attacked with juju, which eventually led to their death, through strange sicknesses, and many had died through gunshots"
Key Informant Interview / Female / Sito-Gbethromen/ 07/03/2014.
The community residents cited frequent attacks on the Customs Officers by the youth smugglers and unfriendliness of some community people, as the risks faced by the Customs Officers on duties.
The ways through which the Customs Officers normally averted the risks were equally mentioned by the community residents.
Compromising with the smugglers was extensively mentioned by the community residents as a way of averting risks by Customs Officers. Moreover, shooting to the air to get escape routes when smugglers and supporting community people attempted to lynch or mob them was equally mentioned. Some community residents also mentioned taking of necessary precautions as a way of averting the risks by the Customs Officers. Finally, community residents also mentioned that Customs Officer also used both assaultive and protective charms, as ways of averting risks they confronted. An informant mentioned a case of one Customs Officer she lived in the same house with, in the past on this:
"I know of a Custom Officer who lived in the same house with me in the past that spent N
Key Informant Interview / Female / Badagry /03/03/2014
The community people who participated in the study also gave some brief comments on the ways through which the youth smugglers normally averted the risks involved in smuggling. The responses on this were grouped together and highlighted below:
1 They averted the risk by bribing the Customs Officers.
2 They averted the risks by using charms or casting spells at the Customs Officers.
3 They averted the risks by moving and operating in group.
4 They averted the risks by seeking the assistance of the community people.
The community residents also gave comments on repercussions that smuggling poses to the entire community border areas.
The first repercussion mentioned virtually by the entire participant was the extra judicial killing of the innocent community people, during gunshots between the Customs Officers and the smugglers. Secondly, the smuggling has led to the increase in the illicit drug use within the communities. Thirdly, smuggling encouraged increase in sexual immorality among the youths of the communities. Prostitution thrived, and pre-marital sexual intercourses had led to many incidences of teenage pregnancy. The smuggling activity had equally led to child labour; finally, smuggling caused a high rate of school dropout among the school age youths.
The implication of smuggling on the impoverishment of the education life of the community youths, who engaged in smuggling, was discussed extensively by some of the key informants in this study. An informant had this to say:
"Our male students do not know anything, except smuggling. Many of them would not come to school for weeks, because of smuggling, which is the only means of getting money to take care of themselves. A boy came to me and told me that he would not be able to come to school for a week because he wanted to go and smuggle goods, so that he can get enough money to feed himself and his father’’.
Key Informant Interview / Male / Teacher / Sito – Gbethromen/ 03/05/2014
The same informant commented further:
"The students here are very poor academically. They do not come to school always. They are very dull students, because they do not have time to face their study, because of Smuggling’’.
Key Informant Interview / Male Teacher / Sito – Gbethromen / 03/05/2014
Another key informant concurred with the same’’
"You see, the students do not value educational certificates. They would say, they do not need certificate for smuggling and therefore, never aspire to get academic certificate. Their coming here is not for academic excellence but to mark time. Because they are not studious students, we always recorded poor performances in the external examinations’’
Key Informant Interview / Male Teacher/ Sito – Gbethromen / 03/ 05/ 2014
Another key informant substantiated further:
"The most important effect of smuggling is on the schooling of the students in this community. Many of them are Kelebes (tout boys used by Customs Officers). They usually worked throughout the nights, collecting money from the smugglers and when they come to school in the morning, you would notice them sleeping or dozing, when classes were going on. If you asked them why they were sleeping, they would tell you they worked overnight’’.
Key Informant Interview / Female Teacher / Sito – Gbethromen /03/05/2014
Another key informant explained further:
"The major problem this smuggling is causing to the community is in the area of the education. Many of the male students would not come to school regularly. The majority of the boys involved in smuggling usually come during the mid – term tests and during examination. The rest of the weeks during the term were meant for smuggling’’.
Key Informant Interview / Female Teacher / Kankon / 06 / 05 / 2014
The study also discovered that smuggling has devastating effect on the education of the female students of the communities too. An informant had this to say:
"Some of the girls used to sell Paraga (local gins with herbs) to the Custom Officers and Kelebes who were on night duty. You would notice them sleeping in class when teaching was going on. When you ask them why they were sleeping in class, they would say that they sold for the Customs Officers and Kelebes over night’’
Key Informant Interview/ Female Teacher / Sito –Gbethromen / 03 / 05/ 2014.
The key informants also stressed the effect further:
"The effect of smuggling also extended to female students in area of early pregnancy. Many of them were victims of early pregnancy and the male students among them are always engaged in early marriage. I know a boy in my class (A basic 9 student), who has three wives. That is the usual habit of the youths around the border communities’’
Key Informant Interview / Female Teacher / Sito – Gbethromen / 03/ 05/ 2014
Another key informant gave the same comment, especially in area of smuggling, causing promiscuity:
"The problem of smuggling is seriously encouraging the problem of promiscuity in this community. The boys who were smugglers and the ‘Kelebes’ among them have money they usually throw around for their girl friends. This is why sexual immorality and unwanted pregnancies are common phenomena around this community ’’
Key Informant Interview / Female Teacher / Sito – Gbethromen / 03/ 05/ 2014
The study wanted to know what can be done to prevent the effects of smuggling on the education of the youths around the border communities. Counseling was the prominent solution given by the informants. Although an informant complained that such would be very difficult to do because of the extravagant life of the youths involved thus:
"Counselling them was usually a very difficult task to undergo because of the expensive life they lived. Boys who engaged in smuggling have money to spend for themselves and their girlfriends. They usually bought expensive things that their teachers cannot afford to buy. They ate turkey, while the teachers ate fish. In that situation, one may find it difficult to convince them to leave smuggling and face their studies’’.
Key Informant Interview / Female Teacher / Sito – Gbethromen / 03/05/2014
However, counseling was agreed as a way of dissuading them from smuggling. An informant told the reseercher such effort he made on his younger brothers in the past thus:
"I always told my younger brothers to face their education very well and never look at the boys that normally smuggled goods. I always told them that smuggling would likely stop one day. Because a government may come up with a policy that would beef up security around the border, possibly with armed soldiers and therefore make smuggling impossible. I told them that their certificates and the educational knowledge they would acquire cannot be taken away from them, but smuggling can be taken away from them’’.
Key Informant Interview / Male / Seme / 02 /02 / 2014
Another female informant commented on the efficacy of counselling in dissuading the youths from smuggling:
"Well, there are changes now when compared with the past. This is because we are now, on many occasions, inviting counsellors and educationists from the ministry of education to counsel them on the need to face their studies and abandon smuggling. It was of recent that they have started to understand the importance of education in their lives’’.
Key Informant Interview / Female Teacher / Kankon / 06/ 05/ 2014
4.3. Other Repercussions or Effects of Smuggling
The study asked questions on the repercussions or effects of smuggling. In the area of social effects of smuggling, the effects mentioned that were not included in the questionnaires were that:
1 Smuggling has led to the stigmatization of the communities along the borders with criminal behaviours.
2 Smuggling has worsened the social behaviours of the youths in the community.
3 Smuggling has led to the loss of parental authority and control over the community children involved.
4 Smuggling has led to increase in peer group influence in crime commitment.
In area of political effects, the points mentioned that have not be included were:
1 Smuggling poses security threat to the country.
2 Smuggling encouraged political thuggery: some smugglers were used as political thugs during elections.
Finally, in area of economic effects were:
1 Smuggling leads to inflation.
2 Smuggling would make local economy to become damp.
3 Smuggling affects the value of home made goods.
The study investigated the ways by which community people normally averted the risks the smuggling poses to the communities. The responses were collated grouped together and highlighted below:
1 By using local vigilante groups to monitor the security of the border areas.
2 Through cooperation between the border communities of Nigeria and Benin Republic, initiated by their traditional rulers.
3 By incessantly appealing to the smugglers.
4 By blocking some smuggling routes within the communities.
5 By writing letters to the area comptroller on the needs for his men (Customs Officers) to be conscious of the security of the lives of the community people.
6 By prayers for divine intervention, in protection of the lives of the people in the communities.
7 By bringing Oro cult out, to instill security in the communities.
4.4. Summary of the Findings
It is a general or public knowledge that smuggling is a risky adventure. The act of smuggling poses risks to the smugglers, the law enforcement officers and the entire society. This study also looked into various risks that were involved in smuggling. The participants in the study were of the opinion that youth smugglers were always involved in risks.
88.2 percent of the law enforcement officers confirmed that youth smugglers were usually involved in risks. 71.9 percent of the community residents strongly agreed with the same. During the interviews granted by the youth smugglers who participated in the study, there were strong confirmations of a lot of risks that youth smugglers faced during smuggling operations. The first risk mentioned was that of gun shot from the Customs Officers. A youth smuggler narrated a story of how he narrowly escaped being shot dead by a Customs Officer in the past. Hence, gunshot was prominent risk that youth smugglers faced during smuggling operation.
The second risk prominently mentioned by the youth smugglers was accident. Accidents, as a result of reckless driving, were cited as common phenomenon during smuggling operations. A youth smuggler relayed the story of how he nearly got involved in an accident, when being chased by customs patrol vehicle in the past. Another youth smuggler displayed to the researcher, the wound he sustained in an accidents in the past, when smuggling goods with his motor cycle. The information gathered from the field showed that accidents were common or frequent occurrences during smuggling, as a result of reckless driving by smugglers.
Another risk identified by youth smuggler was the armed robbery attack. Youth smugglers interviewed during the study confirmed that on some occasions, armed robbers normally attacked them. The money meant to purchase goods was usually stolen by armed robbers at gun points. Moreover, on some occasions, armed robbers could rob them of their valuable goods being smuggled. Hence, many youth smugglers occasionally armed themselves for reprisal attacks on Customs Officers and to attack armed robbers on their smuggling routes.
Another prominent risk mentioned which can be counted as the commonest risk was the seizure of the smuggled goods by Customs Officers on duty. Constant seizure of smuggled goods was one of the prominent ways of controlling smuggling all over world. It is in the law that smuggled goods must be forfeited to the government when such goods were seized, likewise the vehicles or any other means of transportation used in smuggling.
The information gathered during the study revealed that seized goods like Bags of Rice, frozen foods, clothes and other material things, were usually distributed among the orphanages who registered with the government. Moreover, vehicles were usually sold to the public through auction. Information showed that many of smugglers have gone bankrupt as a result of their goods being seized and many have died of high blood pressure related diseases as a result.
The study equally gathered information that youth smugglers did run the risk of losing perishable goods during smuggling operations. Perishable goods like frozen foods often got spoilt in the process of smuggling. Customs Officers may block all the known smuggling routes. Therefore, the smugglers may not be able to deliver such frozen foods at the appointed time. A youth smuggler signified during the interviews that this was the reason why he did not usually smuggle frozen foods.
The smuggling operations across borders also posed risks to the law enforcement officers. The study discovered that many Customs Officers had been lynched and murdered in the past by some community people who aided smugglers against the Customs officers. Many had been attacked with dangerous weapons and charms in the past by some irate community people and smugglers. Moreover, some had been killed by gun shots from smugglers.
Another risk mentioned was the possibility of losing job when caught taking bribe by the Senior Officers. During the course of study, it was gathered that some officers had been dismissed in the past for taking bribe from smugglers. Hence, dismissal was mentioned as one of the risks, smuggling posed to the Customs Officers, if found taking bribe.
Moreover, we equally learnt in the study that some Customs Officers had attacked one another in past, with gun, when trying to share money taken from smugglers.
The study equally X – rayed the risks that smuggling posed to the entire community areas along the border transportation corridors. The study discovered that many people, especially the school children, had been knocked down and killed in the past by motorist smugglers who were trying to escape from Customs Officers pursuing them. In a similar way, many community people had been killed by stray bullets when smugglers and Customs Officers engaged in gun battles. From the study, killing of innocent people was another reason why community people normally attacked the Customs Officers as informed by the community people who participated in the study. Hence, smuggling makes the community areas near the border, unsafe for people to live.
1 We concluded that risks involved in smuggling are many but not in any way form discouragement to the youths involved in smuggling. The risks the Customs Officers faced during the official duty made the customs service job a very risky one which government need to intervene and manage such risks. The risks faced by the communities as a result of smuggling need to be looked into.
2 The study concluded that smuggling is a prominent factor which has led to the education backwardness of the communities near the Nigeria borders.
3 It is also concluded that smuggling has increased the rate of teenage pregnancy, sexual immorality and the spread of HIV/ AIDS within the border communities, which has grave implication for the community health professionals.
4 The study also concluded that smuggling has facilitated an increase in drugs and alcoholic consumption among the youths in border communities.
The first proposed solution to smuggling was the creation or provision of employment opportunities for the youths living around the borders and in Nigeria in general. Employment would forestall the youths from engaging in smuggling and other criminal activities.
Secondly, education should be made freely available to the youth schooling in the border communities. The youth were discovered to be at educational disadvantage. The youths should be treated by the government the way indigenes of some particular states were treated. Scholarship should be provided for them and the cost of education should be reduced to a bearable minimum.
Thirdly, government should establish skill acquisition programmes for the youths living within the border communities. Such programmes would adequately equip the youths to face the unemployment challenges.
Moreover, provision of monthly stipend allowances should be considered for unemployed youths in the border communities and some of them can be enlisted as informants for the Customs Officers.
Finally, government should embark on poverty alleviation programmes(s) among the youths in the border communities.