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Benin, Niger fail to meet conditions for border reopening – Minister



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Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, says judging from the rate at which goods were smuggled and the number of illegal immigrants arrested over the last two weeks, nothing is being done by Benin and Niger to address issues that led to closure of Nigeria’s land borders.

The minster disclosed this on Monday when he led a government delegation to the Seme border.

Recall that the Federal Government announced five conditions that would make it reopen the borders after the closure. One of those conditions is that Nigeria would turn down imported goods repackaged by neighbouring countries and brought to Nigeria.

Another condition requires immigrants to identify themselves by providing a passport. These agreements were reached during a meeting of Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Temporary Partial Closure of Land Borders in Abuja.

Giving an account of the events that occurred during the border closure, the Information Minister said, “Local consumption of fuel had dropped by 30% apparently due to the reduction in smuggling of petroleum products to neighbouring countries.

“The partial closure has so far curbed the smuggling of foreign rice into the country, in addition to other prohibited items. Our series of interactions and engagements with the Rice Miller Association of Nigeria since the commencement of this exercise has shown that the border closure has enhanced more production and milling of Nigerian rice.

“Patronage of Nigerian rice has increased and farmers are expanding their farms as well as engaging more hands. Furthermore, the border closure has impacted positively on revenue generation of the Federal Government which in turn will be used to build more infrastructure and develop critical sectors of the nation’s economy.

“The border exercise has also curbed diversion of petroleum products from Nigeria to neighbouring countries,” Lai explained.

It was also reported that Ghanaian goods and services recorded high patronage at the last Lagos International Trade Fair despite the closure of the land borders and the disagreement between the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) and foreign traders.