The Federal Government, yesterday, foreclosed re-opening of the nation’s borders, saying 95 per cent of arms and ammunition inflow to Boko Haram, kidnappers, killer herdsmen and bandits has gone down considerably.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who reaffirmed government’s stance on closure of the borders against importation of foreign goods and illegal immigrants, also said about 296 illegal immigrants had so far been arrested.
Mohammed spoke on a day Association of Nigerian Licenced Customs Agents, ANLCA, staged a protest against the continued closure of land borders and what they described as illegal seizure of legitimate goods which duty had been paid, asking President Muhammadu Buhari to come to their rescue.
The minister stated this at a joint inspection of Exercise Swift Response, ESR, at Seme border, in company of Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of State for Finance, Budget and Planning, Clement Agba; Comptroller General of Immigration, Assistant Comptroller General of Customs, traditional rulers and other dignitaries.
He explained that the decision to close the borders was taken to secure the country which had been confronted by numerous trans-border economic and security challenges from economic and security sabotage.
He said the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, and Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, in collaboration with the Armed Forces of Nigeria, AFN, as well as the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, and other security and intelligence agencies, commenced a joint border security exercise, code-named ‘EX-SWIFT RESPONSE’ in four geopolitical zones of the country, including South South, South West, North Central and North West on August 20, 2019.
The exercise, according to him, is being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, and is aimed at better securing the borders in order to strengthen the economy and address other trans-border security concerns.
Mohammed said: “Overtime, Nigeria has been confronted with numerous trans-border economic and security challenges. These challenges range from banditry, kidnapping, smuggling, illegal migrants and proliferation of light weapons, among others.
“Meanwhile, the preference for foreign goods, especially food items such as rice, has continuously impoverished our farmers and adversely affected domestic government policies supporting the agricultural sector to enhance food security.
“It is, however, disturbing that some neighbouring countries circumvent the ECOWAS protocol on transit. For clarity, the ECOWAS protocol on transit demands that when a transit container berths at a seaport, the receiving country is mandated to escort same without tampering with the seal to the border of the destination country.
“Unfortunately, experience has shown that our neighbours do not comply with this protocol. Rather, they break the seals of containers at their ports and trans-load goods destined for Nigeria.”
The minister, who expressed satisfaction with success so far recorded by the joint task force, said the singular decision had reduced importation of foreign goods, increased revenue generation and enhanced security.
Source: Vangaurd ng