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Nigeria border closure targetted at criminals, not countries, says Onyeama

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Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama on Thursday said the temporary closure of the country’s borders was not targetted at any countries but to curb criminal activities.

“No country is targeted,” Onyeama told journalists after a meeting with Ghana’s foreign minister Shirley Botchwey in Abuja.

“We are within ECOWAS, we respect the ECOWAS rules, free movement of persons, and goods and that should continue.”

In August, Nigeria shut its land borders to neighbouring African countries.

President Muhammadu Buhari explained that the border closure was aimed at taming the ‘massive’ smuggling activities, especially of rice, taking place on that corridor.

Emphasizing the president’s stance, Onyeama said border closure could not have been done to the disadvantage of other African countries.

“We are targeting criminal activities and not countries,” Onyeama said.

“So, in addressing a particular country’s issues, it would not be a disadvantage to another country because, for us, it is a measure to address a particular issue.”

Ghana minister Bothwey disclosed that both countries had agreed on modalities to resolve the trade challenges arising from the recent border closure during the meeting.

She expressed optimism of the issues being resolved quickly for Ghana’s exports to move Nigeria without any impediment.

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Monday, October 14, announced a ban on import and export of all kinds of goods through Nigeria land borders.

“For now, all goods, whether illicit or non-illicit, are banned from going and coming into Nigeria,” Hameed Ali, NCS chief, said at a press conference in Abuja.

“Let me add that for the avoidance of doubt that we included all goods because all goods can equally come through our seaports,” he said.

Ali during the week also disclosed that the Republic of Niger banned the exportation of rice to Nigeria in any form.


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