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Customs Border

Upon ECOWAS pressure at recent meeting, FG still adamant on border closure

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Emerging body language of the Federal Government and scanty details from the recent ECOWAS meeting of Heads of State and Finance Ministers held in Abuja, have shown no respite or chances of reopening land borders come January 1 as earlier speculated.

Otherwise, beyond pressures from Heads of Governments, who gathered at the ECOWAS House in Abuja last week, the Federal Government had yet to decide a terminal date when the country’s border would be reopened to neighbouring countries.

A source from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confided on our correspondent that “There was no truce yet even though some Heads of State complained to Nigerian Government on the sidelines of the ECOWAS summit.

The source, which could not give further details, said “Chances of reopening border sooner will depend on immediate neighbours meeting already given conditions.

Recall that the Government had in August closed its borders to neighbouring countries in an exercise code-named operation Exercise Swift Response between the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).

In his response to media chat on Monday in Abuja, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, said the Federal Government had held strategic meetings with Benin Republic and Niger to reach an agreement on modalities for the border reopening.

According to her, “One of the fallouts of the meeting was the setting up of a joint border patrol team made up of security personnel from customs, air force and other security agencies.”

“I think the decision to reopen the border would be based on recommendations from the patrol team on whether Niger and Benin Republic have complied with trade protocols.

“We had the strategic meeting with the three countries and what we agreed with our neighbours is to activate a joint border patrol and that border patrol comprising the customs, all the security agencies and ensure to try to follow the actual protocol laid by ECOWAS.

“The committee met on November 25 and it is only when that committee is certain that all the countries are respecting the ECOWAS protocol that they will recommend a day for the opening of the border,” the Minister added.

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