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Immigrants, traders, others groan as Nigeria shuts borders over insecurity

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[FILE PHOTO] Seme Border

The closure of Nigeria’s land borders to check banditry, terrorism, smuggling, proliferation of small arms and light weapons and related criminal activities may have begun taking toll in earnest on immigrants, traders, commuters, customs agents, forwarders and other maritime stakeholders, as a good number of persons yesterday deplored the decision to restrict movement, and by extension, regional trade.

The Guardian sources at the Seme and Idiroko borders in Lagos and Ogun states yesterday confirmed that scores of immigrants were stranded in Republic of Benin on account of the decision

Also, traders with consignments in lorries, cars and trucks underwent tough time, as a team of security agents, comprising the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and members of the armed forces, gave vent to the presidential directive.

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The order, it was learnt, is being coordinated by the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) to reverse the pervasive insecurity in the land.

Chairman of the West African Road Transport Union (WARTU), Salami Nasiru, told The Guardian yesterday that his members were trapped at borders.

“I was at the border today (yesterday) when we discovered that it has been closed. Nobody knows the details. We are only waiting till further notice. They did not allow anybody to go in or out. We don’t know what to do now. The transporters now park at the Benin side of the border. We are hopeful that the it would be reopened soon,” he said.

His Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) counterpart, Bisiriyu Lasisi Fanu, described the development as shocking, regretting that businesses had been shut down as well.

He said: “We have no work to do at the moment because government has closed the borders. It is not peculiar to Seme, it is nationwide. They have stationed a joint security patrol there. They did not tell us that they were shutting the borders. They did not even allow individuals that are trekking. The vehicles are parked outside Nigeria. And they are very serious about it.”

A trader at Idiroko border, Lanre Azeez, also confirmed a total restriction of movement by the security operatives.

The Guardian gathered that the nationwide exercise would extend to the unmanned areas along the large expanse of lands in border communities in due course.

The Public Relations Officer for the NCS, Joseph Attah, had on Tuesday hinted of government’s intention to fortify the borders through a joint team codenamed, “Ex-Swift Response”, but never disclosed that it was going to take the shape of a complete or partial closure.

He said the surveillance was holding in four geopolitical zones of South South, South West, North Central and North West.


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