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‘Total border closure signifies government’s reluctance to address smuggling’

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The Association of International Trade and Investment Promoters of Nigeria (AITIP OF NIGERIA) has said total closure of Nigerian Land borders shows that the Federal Government lacks political will to address smuggling through the borders.

It argued that the lingering closure has impacted both legal and illegal importations, insisting that the development remains an ill wind that would blow nobody any good in the long run.

A statement issued by its President, Prof. Kabiru Dandago Isa yesterday in Kaduna, noted that instead of total closure, the Federal Government should have looked inwards with a view to strengthening and enhancing operational modalities of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and other security agencies around the borders. He said the closure of all land borders has increased monthly revenue generation to N115 billion through customs duty and exercise, but that this no doubt, came with some consequences.

“While the closure of the borders has made the prices of locally produced rice, cassava and other grains to appreciate to the advantage of their producers, the worse hit by the closure are the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) whose survival depends largely on import or export of goods such as ginger and sesame seeds, among others through the borders,” he said.Isa explained that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) border protocols were diplomatic issues that could be resolved diplomatically with the neighboring countries.

“The questions that keep coming from various quarters are, (1) Is the total closure of borders the only solution to illegal importation or exportation of goods to the country; (ii) Are the borders really closed; (iii) Do some of the actions mean the Federal Government does not care about the well being and livelihood of people living 20km around the borders? He asked.

It would be recalled that the Nigerian government announced the closure of its land borders on August 18, 2019 because of what it described as illegal importation and export of goods in and out of the country.

The borders cut across 102 local governments areas in 21 states of the federation and it is believed that this will compel all goods for import or export to pass through the seaports and airports into the country.The government further announced the closure of all petroleum filling stations within 20km close to the borders to stop illegal trans-border sale of the products to the neighboring countries, a development the traders say may cripple many local businesses.

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