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Nigeria, Benin Republic to set up joint committee on smuggling

President Muhammadu
Buhari on
 hosted President Patrice Talon of the Republic of Benin
at State House, Abuja,
where they agreed on the imperativeness of a joint
committee to combat smuggling.

Also to be consulted in the workings of the
committee is Niger Republic, which is believed to be a transit point in the
concentric circle of smuggling of commodities, particularly rice, into Nigeria.

President Buhari,
according to a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and publicity, Femi
Adesina, said “We have succeeded in cutting the importation of rice into the
country by about 90%.”

He pointed out that smuggled parboiled rice still
finds its way into the country, thus vitiating the efforts of government, and
discouraging farmers.

“When I got into
office in 2015, the first thing I did was to visit all our neighbours; Niger
Republic, Chad, Cameroon, and Benin Republic. It made both economic and
security sense, because if you are in good terms with your neighbours, you ultimately
spend less on both physical and food security, “the President said.

He, however, added that activities of smugglers are
hindering Nigeria’s quest for self-sufficiency, particularly in rice

A more sinister side to the smuggling menace, President
Buhari noted, is the influx of small arms and ammunition into the country, thus
increasing the spectre of insecurity.

Modalities of the joint committee to combat
smuggling are to be worked out as soon as possible, the two leaders agreed.

The Nigerian President also welcomed the idea of a
rail network to link Nigeria, Benin Republic, Niger Republic, and some other
countries, saying “it is valuable economically,” and would be subjected to
further comprehensive study.

President Talon said smuggling affects both Nigeria
and his country negatively, and also constitutes a threat to the bilateral
relationship between the two countries.

“We are aware of how
rice smuggling is affecting the development of local capacity in rice farming in
Nigeria. It is affecting trade between us negatively, and Nigeria is an
important partner for a country like Benin. But we have no powers to block
goods meant for other countries, and our country is not the final destination
for the smuggled rice. We need to develop a common will to face the
problem,”   President Talon said.

He also submitted that the proposed rail network
between the countries would boost economic development.
The Nation 

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