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FG recounts gains of border closure

The Federal Government says items
estimated at N3.5 billion have so far been apprehended with the partial closure
of its land and maritime borders with neighbouring countries.

The Minister of Information and
Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this on Monday at Seme, a border town
between Nigeria and Benin Republic.

The minister is among the Federal Government ministerial delegation on inspection
and assessment of the potency of the border closure directive.

Other members of the delegation are,
Ministers of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema,
Minister of State, Finance and National Planning, Clement Agba.

The National Security Adviser, Gen.
Babagana Monguno (rtd), Comptroller-General of Immigration, Mohammed Babandede
and the Comptroller-General of Customs who was represented by a Deputy
Comptroller-General are in the delegation.

Addressing the media after the
inspection, the minister said no fewer than 296 illegal immigrants had been
arrested during the ongoing exercise.

“In the area of security, the ongoing
exercise has recorded a number of seizures and arrests that would have had
grave security consequences.
“Some items seized include;
38,743-50kg bags of parboiled foreign rice, 514 vehicles, 1,012 drums filled
with PMS, 5,400 Jerri cans of vegetable oil, 346 motorcycles, 10, 553 Jerri
cans of PMS and 136 bags of NPK fertilizer used for making explosives.

“The estimated values of the
apprehended items is about ₦3,5 billion,’’ he said.

The minister said that the partial
closure had so far curbed the smuggling of foreign rice into the country, in
addition to other prohibited items.

He said that as a result of the
closure, Niger Republic had already circulated an order banning exportation of
rice in any form to Nigeria.

“Our series of interactions and
engagements with Rice Miller Association of Nigeria since the commencement of
this exercise, has shown that the border closure has enhanced more production
and milling of Nigerian rice.

“Patronage of Nigerian rice has
increased and farmers are expanding their farms as well as engaging more hands.

“The border exercise has also curbed
diversion of petroleum products from Nigeria to neighbouring countries.

“Furthermore, the border closure has
impacted positively on revenue generation of the Federal Government which in
turn will be used to build more infrastructure and develop critical sectors of
the nation’s economy,” he said.

The minister said that 95 per cent of
illicit drugs and weapons being used for act of terrorism and kidnapping in
Nigeria come in through the porous borders.

He, however, noted that since the
partial closure, the acts had been drastically reduced.
“Our conclusion is that, the arms and
ammunition these terrorists and criminal elements were using no longer gain
access into the country.
“In addition, the drugs which affect
the health and the well-being of Nigerians have equally been reduced,” he said.

Mohammed said the exercise had
provided a platform for the various participating agencies to jointly operate
together thereby strengthening inter-agency collaboration and reducing

He recalled that the government took
the measure in August to address the numerous trans-borders economic and
security challenges confronting the nation.

 “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 like rice has continuously impoverished
our farmers and adversely affected domestic government policies supporting the
agricultural sector to enhance food security,” he said.

The minister blamed the neighboring
countries for circumventing 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,”
he said.

The minister assured that the
government through diplomatic channels would continue to engage its neighbours
to agree to comply with the ECOWAS Protocol on Transit.

Speaking with News Agency of Nigeria
(NAN), Babatunde Humpe representing Badagry Federal Constituency in the House
of Representatives said though the closure had its negative effects on his
people, they are in support of the decision by the government.

The lawmaker said that the closure
would at the end of the day be beneficial to the people in terms of economic
development and security.
He therefore, appealed to his people
to be law abiding, bear the pains and support the government. (NAN)

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