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Buhari says Nigeria-Benin border closed to check smuggling

 …As Customs Service arrests illegal migrants
File Photo of seized smuggled trailer-load of rice in Lagos

President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed that the need
to check the smuggling of rice into Nigeria from Benin Republic informed the
closure of the Seme border, just as other land borders in the country were
closed due to smuggling activities too.

Buhari made this known while speaking with told his
Beninois counterpart, Patrice Talon, during the Seventh Tokyo International
Conference for African Development (TICAD7), holding in Yokohama, Japan.
In a statement, Spokesman to the President, Mr. Femi
Adesina, said the President had become very concerned about the spate of rice smuggling
into the country and saw it as a threat to the nation’s efforts in agriculture
for food production.
The statement reads: “Now that our people in the rural
areas are going back to their farms, and the country has saved huge sums of
money which would otherwise have been expended on importing rice using our
scarce foreign reserves.
“We cannot allow smuggling of the product at such
alarming proportions to continue.”
Government had last week announced the measure to close
the nation’s land borders, an operation that is being enforced jointly by the Nigeria
Customs Service, the Police and the Immigration Service.
Foreigners who were allowed to cross the border were
required to submit photocopies of their travelling documents to show that they
have genuine business in Nigeria.
Affected travelers said the closure was against the
Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) treaty which allows movement
from one country to another within the sub-region.
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Police Force
(NPF) and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) had launched a joint operation
exercise to address issues of insecurity in the nation’s border stations.
Code-named Ex-Swift Response, the joint operation will
tackle all security issues in border areas.
Public Relations officer of the Customs Service, Mr.
Joseph Attah in a statement said the security measure, which is being
coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) would cover the
South-South, South-West, North-Central and North-West.
Meanwhile, responding to questions this morning on a
breakfast live programme on Channels Television, Attah said 33 illegal migrants had been
arrested and that the border was only partly closed.

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