A Brief On the Border Closure
The Nigerian Customs Service has announced an indefinite ban on international trade of goods through the land borders.
Comptroller-General, NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (retd), stated this at a press conference in Abuja, saying “For now, all goods, whether illicit or non-illicit, are banned from going and coming into Nigeria. Let me add that for the avoidance of doubt, we have included all goods because all goods can equally come through our seaports.”
“For that reason, we have deemed it necessary for now that importers of such goods should go through our controlled borders where we have scanners to verify the goods and how healthy they are to our people.”
To What End Is This Border Closure Exercise?
The aim of this exercise is to secure Nigeria’s borders, address trans-border security concerns and strengthen the economy.
The closure of the borders has so far curbed the smuggling of foreign rice into the country and addressed the diversion of petroleum products to neighbouring countries.
Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Speaking on the border closure, she explained: “It has to be Nigeria first and we have to protect our own industries because some of our neighbours have been flagrantly abusing commitments that we jointly signed to and the President has said this is no longer acceptable.
“The border closure is not forever, there will be an end date, the federal government is currently in discussion with governments of our neighbouring countries Niger and the Benin Republic.”
“We are negotiating to make sure that the challenges that led to the closure of the borders are addressed on both sides but, especially that our neighbours meet the commitments that we signed unto several years ago.
“Once those discussions are concluded, the borders will be opened again.”
What Statistics are Available?
According to Comptroller-General, NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (retd), 10.2 million litres of petrol had been stopped from being diverted out of the country since the borders were closed, while producers of local food were making increased earnings.
Information from the customs boss shows that so far, 317 suspected smugglers and 146 illegal migrants have been arrested.
Also, some items seized are 21,071 pieces of 50kg bags of parboiled foreign rice; 190 vehicles; 891 drums filled with petrol; 2,665 jerry cans of vegetable oil; 66,000 litre-tanker of vegetable oil; 133 motorcycles; 70 jerry cans of petrol and 131 bags of NPK fertiliser used for making explosives.
The estimated monetary value of the intercepted items is about N1.43bn.
We should also note that about 95% of illicit drugs and weapons used for acts of terrorism and kidnapping in Nigeria came through the porous borders.
How Does This Affect Nigeria?
Following Nigeria’s border closure, Niger Republic has already circulated an order banning the exportation of rice in any form to Nigeria.
Who Manages This Operation?
This operation is codenamed ‘EX-SWIFT RESPONSE, and it is coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) comprising the Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies.
Read more details on Nigeria’s border closure here.
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