Nigeria may re-open border soon after neighbours agree on joint border patrol
London, Nov. 15, 2019 (AltAfrica)-There are glimpse of hope that the border closure by Nigeria may be re-opening soon after Nigeria, the Republic of Benin and Niger agreed to establish a joint border police to check the influx of foreign goods into West Africa’s largest market.
The three countries said in a joint communique in Abuja that the joint patrol team will comprise “the police, customs, immigration, navy and state security services of the three countries.”
The patrol is expected to hold its first meeting in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, on November 25.
Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, while reading the communiqué at the end of the meeting said the meeting took note of all concerns raised and agreed to establish a monitoring and evaluating committee of the three countries.
Onyeama said that the committee will comprise of Ministers of Finance, Trade, Foreign Affairs, Customs, Immigration and National Security Adviser.
He said that the Committee is with a mandate to ensure actions that would facilitate and enhance the suppression of smuggled goods and other related matters.
“The meeting agreed that the monitoring and evaluation committee will ensure the full implementation of the adopted mandate of the Joint Anti-Smuggling Human Trafficking Committee.
“Nigeria, Benin also agreed on the establishment of trade facilitation committee among the three countries, comprising of Ministers of Finance and Trade.
“To promote intra-regional trade among the three countries, as well as put in place, sanctions against smuggling of goods.
“The governments agreed to ensure persons from the three countries to enter/exit each other’s state with valid ECOWAS recognised travel documents through recognised controlled posts.
“Establishment of Joint Border Patrol Team comprising the Police, Customs, Immigration of the three countries.
Nigeria closed its land borders to both Benin and Niger in a move the Nigerian government said was aimed curbing smuggling of goods, especially rice, into Nigeria, and illegal export of petroleum products out of the country.
Nigeria also ban supply of petrol to filling stations within 20 kilometre radius of its borders to stiffle smuggling.
The border closure is hurting the economies of Nigeria’s neighbours, which serves as transit countries for some of the goods meant for the Nigerian market.
Nigeria said the borders will remain closed until the end of January.
The policy earned President Muhammadu Buhari more than a few criticisms. But beneficiaries of the move said it was a step in the right direction.
The governor of Nigeria’s central bank said the policy has helped rice farmers and has upped job creation, albeit marginally.
“So, the benefit of the border closure is that it has helped to create jobs for our people, it has helped to bring the integrated rice milling that we have in the country back into business again and they are making money now,” Central Bank of Nigeria’s governor Godwin Emefiele said in October