Posted by News Express | 15 December 2020 | 427 times
Wednesday’s reopening of shut land borders returned life to neighbouring communities.
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.
The other borders are to reopen latest by December 31.
Reopening Thursday are Seme Border in Lagos, Ilela in Sokoto, Maigatari in Jigawa and Mfun in Cross River states.
The borders were shut October 14 last year to curtail the smuggling and illegal importation of drugs, small arms, food and agricultural products as well as smuggling of subsidised petrol from Nigeria to neighbouring West African countries.
In recent months, there has been agitations for the borders to be reopened.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, told reporters after the FEC meeting that the ban on the importation of some commodities remained in force.
She said a committee she chaired, with other ministers as members, recommended the borders’ reopening.
The minister said: “The President approved the reopening of four land borders, namely: Seme in the Southwest; Ilela and Maitagari in the Northwest part and Mfun in the Southsouth part of the country.
“So, these four land borders will be reopened immediately; the remaining borders are directed to be reopened on or before the 31st of December, 2020.
“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.”
Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, said the border closure policy enabled security agencies to check smuggling.
“It has given the security agencies an opportunity to assess the problems at the borders particularly with regard to smuggling,” he said.
According to him, the smuggling of small arms, petroleum products and rice have “reduced drastically”.
He added: “We are hoping and we are sure that this time around, our security agencies will be able to see that the gains are sustained.
“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.
A large number of stakeholders and residents of Seme community expressed their joy at the development. They commended the President.
Reacting, the Seme border chapter of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANCLA) also lauded the development.
Its local Chairman, Alhaji 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.
According to him, 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 Onimeke of Imekeland, Oba Abraham Ogabi, also said that the reopening of the land border was a welcome development.
Ogabi said that the closure had paralysed socioeconomic activities of border communities which relied on the trade between Republic of Benin and Badagry communities.
The monarch said: “We are in the border area, some of our people are married to their women and we do legitimate business with them.
“But the closure has affected our socioeconomic relationship with the border communities of Benin Republic.
“We thank the President and members of the FEC for reopening of the land borders.”
The Alashipa of Ashipa, Badagry Local Government Area 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. (The Nation)
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