The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has warned that Nigeria’s borders with Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger republics will remain closed until the country and its neighbours agree on existing ECOWAS protocol on movement.
Nigeria closed its borders with its neighbours as a potent strategy to stop smuggling of food, especially rice into Nigeria as well as curtail influx of small arms and criminals.
Mr Hameed Ali, the Comptroller General of Customs, reported on Wednesday at Maigatari in Maigatari Local Government Area of Jigawa sharing border with Niger Republic.
He warned that Nigeria had no timeline on re-opening of the borders, except the affected countries agree to implement existing ECOWAS law.
“If the countries agree with Nigeria on the existing laws, then we sign and update the existing protocol of transit, that’s all.’’
He said that Nigeria was ready to meet with the countries to achieve the goals set for the country.
The Customs boss reported that a lot of seizures, interception and arrests have been made since the closure of the borders.
Nigeria, said had completely blocked the importation of contraband and the influx of illicit goods as well as stopped the exportation of petroleum products.
He said that the importation of foreign rice has stopped and the market for local varieties has risen.
In the imbroglio, he explained Nigerians too have to pay some price, saying: “There must be collateral damage in this kind of situation. Somebody must miss one or two things” but Nigeria stood to gain more.
“Our neighbours have no reasons allowing cars, cooking oil and other contraband items to pass through their borders into Nigeria. If it is in their national interest to collect revenue it is in our national interest to close our borders until we sit down and discuss,” Ali said.
He warned that any officer caught conniving to pave way for the importation of contraband items into the country would have himself to blame.
“Some of these things happened in connivance with some of our men. We are trying our best to see that we produce what we consume, particularly rice.
“But the police are being bastardised in connivance with some of my officers. We’re aware of that.
“So, if we catch you, you know where to go, no compromise and you will have yourself to blame.
The customs boss who was at the border to inspect the on-going Operation Border Drill, said: “This is the first time the entire military and paramilitary come together to ensure security and wellbeing of Nigerians, as well as stop human trafficking.
Ali was with the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mr Mohammed Babandede, and Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Aliyu Ndagi, Head of the operation.