President Muhammmadu Buhari has approved the immediate reopening of four of Nigeria’s land borders located in the South-West, South-South and North-West regions of the country. Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this yesterday while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) held in Abuja.
Ahmed said the specific borders reopened included Seme in the South-West, Mfun in the South-South as well as Ilela and Maitagari in the North-West region. According to her, the Federal Government had plans to reopen the other land borders by December 31, 2020.
It would be recalled that Buhari had, in August 2019, ordered the closure of all the nation’s land borders on account of the proliferation of illegal importation of drugs, small arms and agricultural produce into Nigeria from the neighbouring countries. The minister had earlier led a committee mandated to review and advise the government on the reopening of the borders.
Other members of the committee were the Ministers of Trade and Investments, Interior and Foreign Affairs, the National Security Adviser (NSA) and Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service.
“This committee was mandated to review and advise on the reopening of the Nigerian borders and after recommendations, the President approved the reopening of four land borders, namely: Seme in the South-West part of the country, Ilela in the North- West part of the country, Maitagari in the North- West part of the country and Mfun in the South- South part of the country. “So, these four land borders will be reopened immediately while the remaining borders are directed to be reopened on or before 31st of December, 2020.
“Mr. President has also directed on the reopening of the borders that while others are being reopened, the ban on importation of rice, poultry and other banned products still subsists and will be implemented by border patrol team,” Ahmed said. Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, said the closure of the land borders has given the security agencies an opportunity to assess the problems at the borders particularly with regard to smuggling. Adebayo said that before the border closure, a lot of petroleum products were being smuggled out from Nigeria to other West African countries.
He said that the border closure has created a situation that has tactically stopped the smuggling of petroleum products through the borders. According to him, during the closure, government was able to detect the amount of petroleum products being smuggled out by calculating the amount that is being lifted now compared to what was being lifted before.
“The issue of smuggling of rice to the country has reduced drastically and we are hoping that our agencies will be able to sustain that so also is the issue of poultry smuggling. “Also very important is the issue of importation of small arms and weapons into the country. That also has stopped.
We are hoping and we are sure that this time around, our security agencies will be able to see that that doesn’t reoccur again. 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,” Adebayo said.