Nigeria reopens border crossings with neighbours

NEWSMAN, Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday ordered the reopening of four land borders in three of the six geopolitical zones of the country with immediate effect.

The reopening borders are Seme Border in Lagos, Ilela in Sokoto, Maigatari in Jigawa and Mfun in Cross River states. while the remaining borders are directed to be opened 31st of December, 2020.

Federal Government had at the onset said the borders were closed to stop illegal importation of contrabands including arms and ammunitions, smuggling of subsidised petrol from Nigeria to neighbouring West African countries and as well as to boost agriculture and protect local economy.

There was instant jubilation at Seme, a Lagos State town on the border with Benin Republic, following the announcement that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the immediate reopening of four land borders.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed disclosed the reopening of the four borders after the 28th virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Council Chamber of State House, Abuja.

President Buhari participated at the meeting virtually from his country home in Daura, Katsina State.

She said: “The president has approved the recommendations of the committee that I chaired with the ministers of trade and investment, interior, foreign affairs, national security adviser and comptroller general of Customs”.

The finance minister said the committee was mandated to review and advise on the reopening of the Nigerian borders and after they submitted their recommendations, the president agreed that the borders should be reopened.

“Mr President has also directed that the ban on importation of rice, poultry and other banned products still subsists and will be implemented by border patrol team”, she said.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, said the border closure policy allowed the security agencies to access the problems at the borders particularly concerning smuggling.

‘‘The smuggling of small arms, petroleum products and rice have “reduced drastically.

“These are the issues that caused the closure of the borders in the first place and we have been able to put a stop to them.

“We are hoping and we are sure that this time around, our security agencies will be able to see that the gains are sustained’’, Adebayo added.

A large number of stakeholders and residents of Seme community expressed their joy at the development. They commended the President.

Reacting to this, the Seme border chapter of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANCLA) also lauded the development.

Its local Chairman, Bisiriyu Fanu, said the reopening of land borders was overdue, saying that the gesture will boost trans-border trade in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region.

He said ‘‘many freight forwarders had lost their means of livelihoods as a result of the 14-month-old closure because their goods were stuck on both sides of the border’’.

The Alashipa of Ashipa, Badagry Local Government Arae of Lagos, Alhaji Shehu Ayeni, said the closure had affected his community which shared land borders with Republic of Benin.

He, however, appealed to the government to ensure deploy security operatives to necessary points in the area to block the influx of contraband.

Ayeni said that the reopening of the Seme land border would put smiles on the faces of many residents of the community.

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