The Federal Government on Wednesday ordered the immediate reopening of four land borders across the country.
The land borders are Seme (South-West), Ilela (North West), Maigatari (North-West) and Mfum (South-South).
President Muhammadu Buhari made this known on his twitter handle.
“President Buhari has directed the immediate opening of four land borders: Seme, Illela, Maigatari, and Mfun,” @NGRPresident tweeted.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, also confirmed the development at the end of Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja.
Ahmed said while the four borders are to be immediately reopened, the ban on importation of rice, poultry and other banned products subsists and will be implemented by border patrol team.
She said, “I am here to just report that His Excellency, the President, approved the recommendations of the committee that I chaired with the Minister of Trade and Investment as member, Minister of Interior as member, Minister of Foreign Affairs as member, National Security Adviser as member and Comptroller General of Customs.
“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.”
Nigeria shut its land borders last year as parts of government’s sustained efforts to check smuggling and other illicit cross-border activities.
The border closure, however, has been criticised by several stakeholders for being selective and for fuelling smuggling and inflation.
Ahmed, however, reeled out a number of positive developments that came with the border closure policy.
“We have many advantages to the border closure, it has given the security agencies an opportunity to access the problems at the borders particularly with regard to smuggling.
“As you are all aware before the border closures, a lot of petroleum products were being smuggled out from the borders to West African countries and the border closures has created a situation that has tactically stopped that, they have been able to calculate the amount of petroleum products being smuggled out by calculating the amount that is being lifted now compared to what was being lifted before,” she said.
“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.”
Meanwhile, a large number of Seme border residents thronged the streets in jubilation on Wednesday after receiving news of the reopening of the border.
Some stakeholders and residents of the border community expressed their joy at the development and commended Buhari for reopening the land borders.
Reacting, the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Seme Border Chapter, commended the Federal Government for reopening the land borders.
Chairman, Seme chapter of ANCLA, Bisiriyu Fanu, said the reopening of the land borders will boost trans-border trade in the ECOWAS sub-region.
Fanu said that many freight forwarders had lost their means of livelihoods as a result of the closure of the border because their goods were stuck on both sides of the border.
The Onimeke of Imekeland, Abraham Ogabi, also said that the reopening of the land border was a welcome development.
Ogabi said the closure had paralysed socioeconomic activities of border communities, which relied on the trade between Republic of Benin and Badagry communities.
“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,” he said.
Also speaking, the Alashipa of Ashipa in Badagry, Shehu Ayeni, said the closure had affected his community, which shares boundary with the Republic of Benin.
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