Border Security, Arms Proliferation And Terrorism In Nigeria By Lt Col Sagir Musa

Lt.Col Sagir Musa
By Lt. Col Sagir Musa

Proliferation of small arms and light weapons is increasingly and dangerously becoming a transnational organized crime in Nigeria with Boko Haram’s insurgency, reemerging Niger Delta crisis and escalating kidnappings, communal crisis and armed robbery in the South East serving as hubs or impetus for arms trafficking. Some border towns particularly in the North Eastern flank serve as locus for trafficking of arms as well as centers for stolen goods, drugs and hostages perpetrated by criminals, terrorists and their collaborators.

The recent kidnap of a French family at a border town between Nigeria and Cameroon is an example. Similarly, many arms and ammunition of various types, sizes and caliber have been intercepted and confiscated by security agencies. The recurrent detection and recovery of cache of arms, ammunition and Improvised Explosive Device Materials by the JTF further buttressed the point. So also is the occasional recovery of stolen goods and hard drugs from criminals and terrorists’ camps or hideouts. Despite efforts of security agencies, the “merchants of Death” continues to engage in arms trafficking/ trading through covert and deceptive use of porous Nigerian borders of Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. Recently, the Comptroller General of Nigerian Immigration Services stated that the Service has discovered hundreds of illegal routes in Nigeria that link or lead to some neighboring African countries. Nigeria’s borders are massive with hundreds of footpaths crisscrossing to neighboring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger with links to Mali, Libya and Sudan. 

From conservative estimate by locals, there are well over 250 footpaths from Damaturu/Maiduguri axis that link or lead direct to Cameroon, Chad or Niger. These paths are mostly unknown by security agencies, are unmanned, unprotected and thus serve as leaky routes for arms and ammunitions trafficking in to Nigeria.

It is disheartening and unfortunate that the “merchants of death” have since devised methods use to beat security agencies at the borders and through the footpaths. These methods include the use of camels, donkeys and cows to traffic arms, ammunition and drugs, like cocaine into Nigeria. The fact that the weapons are small, light and collapsible makes it easy to be concealed and moved on camels and donkeys’ back in a specially crafted skin or thatched bags mainly meant for the illegal “expedition” unexpected, unsuspected and therefore undetected. Similarly, some cows and grains merchants in the North- East sub – region of the country, devices  means of hiding cache of arms and ammunition in empty fuel tankers, under vehicles’ engines and inside bags of grains mostly undetected by security agencies at the affected border posts. The “grains” are transported in large number via trucks, trailers, Lorries and old model pickup vans and jeeps with little attention given to them by security agents.

The use of Jega type of tricycles ( Keke- Napep) as well as camels, donkeys, and cows (moving in flocks) to deceive, hide and conveniently traffic arms in some parts of the North are ways hitherto unknown, not well exposed or documented. Their capacity for arms trafficking is beginning to be uncovered and are been curtailed by security agencies. The security situation in JTF Operation RESTORE ORDER Area of Responsibility forced the Task Force to take on additional responsibility to trace sources of arms and ammunition to Boko Haram Insurgents, how the arms are trafficked and are also taking measures to block or curtail it. This is one way of effectively checkmating terrorism in Nigeria – destroy its centre of gravity! And this seems to be a task that has so far proved difficult but necessary to be accomplished if the war against insurgency is to be effective and successful.

Similarly, the Libyan and Malian rebels are desperate to exchange arms for money to Boko Haram Terrorists, their financiers and collaborators as the Sect has since been affiliated to Al-Qaida in the Maghreb. This has added to the overwhelming challenge of the influx of illegal aliens, arms, ammunitions and sophisticated IED materials into the country and an efficient and effective fight against terrorism. Additionally, the water ways/ seaports provide havens for arms trafficking through ships and speed boats on high sea and the use of canoes in the creeks. The exchange of stolen crude oil for arms/ ammunition is a well known “trading activity” nurtured and ferociously protected by militants or sea pirates and their financiers and collaborators with the possible connivance of unscrupulous law enforcement agents in the Niger Delta. This is one major source of arms and ammunition that strengthen militants’ arms and ammunition holding not only in the Niger Delta but also in the South East and South Western parts of the country.

Security agencies at the borders and seaports have severally complained of the porosity of the nation’s borders and water ways. The problem of porous borders is compounded by inadequate personnel, patrol vehicles, surveillance helicopters and equipments. Consequently, most of the borders are leaky and this makes effective control of intruders, smugglers and “merchants of death” a mirage. The vastness of the nation’s borders in the face of these challenges bring to the fore the need for a rethink on the management and security of the Nigeria’s borders and seaports – without which effective fight against insurgency, arms trafficking and proliferation will remain an optical illusion. There must be innovative technology; sound policies, proficient process that will help protect our borders. It is worrisome that the exact number of illegal routes and means through which illegal aliens, arms and ammunition are traffic in to the country is largely unknown by the nation’s security system.

The use of innovative technology – radars and alarm systems are major ways modern nations utilize to monitor and secure their borders. Some radar can be used as primary detection sensor for long range remote surveillance platforms. The ability to detect slow moving targets, even in complex mountainous, thickly forested terrains and large open areas make some radars such us Blighter Radar ideal for remote surveillance and detection of vehicles and people trying to cross borders illegally. In remote areas, it is common for intruders to follow natural routes across the land, valleys, mountain paths or animal tracks. In these instances, Mobile Surveillance System provides a cost effective way of monitoring key areas with limited resources. Similarly, Blighter Radar, unlike traditional Air Surveillance Radar can effectively surveil both the land and low air zone simultaneously.

Correspondingly, the fundamental problem of border security, arms trafficking, efficient and effective fight against terrorism in Nigeria can be linked to what Mr Olusegun Adeniyi tersely identified as institutional fragmentation, intelligence and policy non coordination between and among security agencies. These challenges are real and must be addressed for the fight against terrorism; arms proliferation and border security to be effective. 

24 comment(s)
Post a comment


The Nigerian Government must through the army and other voluntary workers fence Nigerian and Niger 1,497 kilometers border. The whole northern border must be fenced so as to keep the terrorist away. This is even cheaper than paying them. The fence should be 6 meters high, just like Israel did to protect its northern borders and it worked. These terrorist are able to operate freely crossing into Nigeria and running back into our northern neighboring countries who are giving them hide outs as they cannot explain where all them thousands or hundreds of terrorists are hiding without the local authorities knowing about it. Remember, that Nigeria has no friend in the whole of Africa. Other countries hate us for our industriousness and as such will do anything to bring us down. The most of all is that these terrorist are being financed and armed through all our neighboring countries, if not so, can somebody tell me how they get their weapons?

The celebration of gross incompetence

"The problem of porous borders is compounded by inadequate personnel ..."

How can you say this in a country where millions of youth and graduates are unemploymented ?

" It is worrisome that the exact number of illegal routes and means through which illegal aliens, arms and ammunition are traffic in to the country is largely unknown by the nation’s security system ..."

This is an indictment of your efficiency, if it is unknown by the security system, then who should know them ?

"Correspondingly, the fundamental problem of border security, arms trafficking, efficient and effective fight against terrorism in Nigeria can be linked to what Mr Olusegun Adeniyi tersely identified as institutional fragmentation, intelligence and policy non coordination between and among security agencies..."

So whose job is it to ensure coordination ? The market women ?


Only a fool or its collaborator will believe that Nigerian army is fighting Boko Haram. This is because one cannot fight himself. Forget about this ex-Civil Defence Recruit called Lt. Sagir Musa, the entirety of the Nigerian army is doing this assignment for the money committed to the operation. This guy is only making a fool out of many uneducated or ethno-religious bigots Nigerians. Being in the same state and town we know how he took the job when someone refused to do it. We also know the millions he is getting by directing him to illuminate innocent people in the area. Atrocities are waiting for him where he committed them.

The GOVT can also set up

The GOVT can also set up lines of iron fences, gutters and a field of land mines in addition to the radar systems. The money we've spent on security votes and on the JTF of recent would have done that. If we are not careful with our borders we will not be able to have a grip on the nation as leaders, because of external influences, migration of foreign insurgents and criminal activities. The more we delay the more the situation gets worst. GEJ take the bull by the horns now and start work.


Dear Sagir i wish to draw your attention that you are not impressing Us with all your fancy  talks to be frank we are sad that the Army has been reduced to a glorified police force . what you are doing is pure police duties  in military uniform at this rate we will not have an army in 10 years time you are on street patrols , cheak point , raiding of oil thrives arresting Foreigners and Evan chasing and raping prostitutes on the street  my Hart bleeds whan I see soldiers on kaduna road stopping J5 buses and collecting # 100 and they Evan salute the drivers after they collect , you parade. Criminals in the madia who were arrested with two bags of Indian hemp t , people see your men openly shearing money with police ,motorist throw pure water , bread and fires wood for your men at cheak point the Army is fast loosing dignity  people no longer rever you the allowances are attractive they Army Evan rush to settle husband and wife quarrel and do land case

Sagir looking for another ATM1

Again as a trained military man, sagir should have known that insurgency is like fire. If you cut its fuel supply, it dies a natural dealth, otherwise it will continue burning until it devours everything on its path.

Therefore this article would only have been impressive if it came in the beginning of the insurgency. Right now, the article lacks the deserving lustre.

Sagir looking for another ATM

This is the only article sagir wrote that is a bit sensible.
But sagir must have known from day one that JTF occupying cities and killing civilians indicriminately can only fuel insurgency.
But the money involved in maintaining JTF operation in Borno/Yobe is so much that the military threw professionalism to the wind and maintained the status quo. There were rumours that JTF in Maiduguri call the city ATM.
Now that the amnesty discussion is beginning to look serious, the JTF are beginning to look for another ATM. I believe that is why sagir is publishing this article, trying to shift the discussion from operation restore order to border security.

proudly nigerian soldier

most people will believe me dt our problem is not able men but as written by this hearty patriotic nigerian soldier

The fact that my people steal

The fact that my people steal crude oil at d niger delta region is very wrong. Alot of us here at the region are illiterates, greedy and selfish. I am appelaing to government to please come to our aid in creating awareness so dat we all can see the crude oil as a nation's resources and not our great grand parents resources.

Good Approach

I would like to commend your effort in this regard, all stakeholders should take boarder security very seriously for us to be secured and prosperous nation.However, Col. your defense of your officers and men against injustices mated to civilian population is very wrong. You be doing very thorough investigation about these abuses


Dear Sagir it is we draw your attention that you ate not impressing Us with all your talks to be frank we are sad that the Army has been reduced to a glorified police force what you are saying a doing is pure police duties at this rate we will not have an army in 10 years time you are on street patrols , cheak point , raiding of oil thrives arresting Forieners my Hart bleeds whan I see soldiers on kaduna road stopping J5 bus and collecting # 100 and they Evan salute them after they collect , you parade. Criminals in the madia who were arrested with two bags of Indian hemp , people see your men openly shearing money with police motorist throw pure water , bread and fires wood for your men the Army is fast loosing dignity you are just like the police people no longer rever you the allowances are attractive but I wish you will see want is happening Army Evan rush to settle husband and wife qurrel

Required technology

Alhamdullilah that you sagir musa knows about the latest technology required to secure our borders, i have being wondering whether you guys only thing of the traditional way of surveillance. So what action have you taken because i know Nigerians are very good on paper and theoretical concept but very poor in implementation.

Sagir Musa: The problem is the corrupt political leadership

This article would do nothing with a corrupt and highly unpatriotic political leadership as the case in Nigeria and you know that. Nigerians masses would follow when the political leadership shows the way !
I hope you watched CNN on the recent Boston bombing and see the response of Obama to the situation. Compare and contrast that to the response of the Nigerian leadership to the Boko Haram crisis at the BEGINNING of the crisis. Instead of the Presidency to respond to a security situation, they were blaming opposition for sponsoring the mayhem even though they had no proof of this. Obama was in Boston within 3 days while Nigerian President stayed away for months. With time, Boko Haram grew more in confidence because of the complacency on the part of govt. with the un-professionalism of the Nigerian security agencies; the latest being the stupid amnesty being offered to killers ! Direct this your article to the office of the President and NSA pls !

Modern nations utilize to monitor and secure their borders....

modern nations utilize to monitor and secure their borders after years of massive educational and technological research. They embraced western education to achieve this.How can we also use such hi tech to monitor and secure our borders when western education is a sacrilege? Is this not one of the reasons advanced by Boko Haram for bombing those perceived as western education fanatics? The best solution is to divide the country and allow those who want to use cows and camels to monitor their borders, walk with their legs and use cars made through western education, throw away guns and use bows and arrows, live in thatched houses and destroy modern buildings etc.This is the only way out of this quagmire.

Accept systemic failure and ask for help

I think this is a useful suggestion to tackle the menace of arms prolifiration and terrorism. Bu right now the government is not ready to tackle these problems otherwise it's a very simple thing to do with advancement in technology. The governement can even get help from advance countries like the US (at least they have interest in our oil)but our continues denial that Nigeria is not a terrorist state is prolonging the evil day. Declare that we are a terrorist country or state of emergency in those states and ask for help my dear country.

Effective control of Nigerian boaders..

It's true that this issue of effective control of our borders is a very important Sagir I personally appreciate your article...the only one important issue you didn't mentioned is the corruption of security agents at our borders. It's only Nigerian border that anybody can cross over by giving only 500 Naira....You see corruption is our major problem in Nigeria.
It's the whole society that is corrupt not only the border security agents....pls Mr Sagir do you know that even the security check points that have been introduce because of the insecurity is not helping matters?....pls make a private investigation and you will be surprised that a lorry loaded with arms can go to anywhere in Nigeria provided the occupants will give little money at the checkpoints. What am trying to say is that as long as our attitude on corruption will continue we shall never be secured in Nigeria....

Terrorism and Arms Proliferation

We must go back to the beginning. The beginning is when Northern leaders made the north into a zone that was practically not subject to the laws of the Federation! Senior police, customs, security services and even the military could not enforce the law against any northern individual or group. The north became one vast, almost un-governed, or at best, sub - governed territory. That is why murderous hordes of urchins could murder people and get away with it with impunity. That is why the borders could not be effectively manned. Leaderships must resolve to enforce the law fairly and squarely, no matter whose ox is gored. When that begins to happen, then the culture of impunity will begin to end and criminality and terror will be reigned in. All said and done, we praise you guys for the work you have done so far, to stop this spiraling out of control. God keep you all.


Lt Col Musa,  I am not being judgmental, but I have called you and sent numerouse text messages with your guys but your office have not found it important enough to follow up. Counter Terrorism is a fight every Nigeria must participate in. If your agency believes that it is a fight you guys will fight and win alone without the civil society with expertise in that area, you guys are mistaken. I will still like to chat with you. Wisdom and knowledge does not reside solely with one person. Regards.

Sound but

Dear Col. Musa,
Your description of the picture at and along the Nigerian borders is sound. You are also right about the need to use innovative technology to monitor and secure the borders. However, not all what is good for other nations is good for Nigeria. Fixed Radars required steady light. Do we have it along the Nigerian borders? How you are going to secure thus fixed radars in the desert ? Is your soldiers will protect them 24/7? The Mobile Surveillance System which is a cost effective way should be joined by Aerial means such as Drones, together with surveillance Ballon and at all time intelligence satellites that can identify the illegal routes to be monitored. As for the maritime arena -it is only Drones and Satellites that can works. this is not a science fiction. We are almost there. It is time for the Government to take actions.

One AK-47 for every Nigerian citizen

Let us adopt a policy of one AK-47 for every Nigerian and the place will be the most peaceful country on earth.

Now that is known

Now that you the people on ground know the actual problem what remains ?
With the huge budgetary allocation to security I think you can propose these recommendations to your superior officers and channel some of the resource at their disposal toward curbing these manace by equipping and re-training. As for the issue of lack of coordition btw security agencies I think it's issue of pride and power, it's time those people at the helm of affairs realize that innocent lives are lost every day and they are partly responsible for every soul lost. Finally the issue of personnel, with over 70million unemployed youths in the country no agency have moral right to complain of personnel as nothing stops them from recruiting other than selfish interests.

ur moda na ashawo. idioot

ur moda na ashawo. idioot

Resources Control

Mallam musa that is what i call a chain reaction, see it this way we the rest just don't want to be caught napping by the islamic north. Your kinsmen insist and actually have the habit of stealing and keeping what does not belong to them. In as much as we all but especially the islamic north keeps it's madness in it's region no wahala. 

You are 1000% correct

Thanks you for highlighting the need for a change of thinking, we can manage our borders with techology that is in the open market and make our country safer for everyone, we just need to bring every stakeholders to the table.