Less than one week to the end of the year, strong indications have emerged revealing that three key neighbouring countries to Nigeria including Benin Republic, Niger and Chad are yet to meet key conditions given by the Federal Government for the reopening of closed land borders.
Recall that the Federal Government had since August 21, this year unilaterally closed all land borders on grounds uncontrollable smuggling in foreign rice and subsidised petroleum.
A source within the ministry confided in Business Hilights Abuja Bureau chief Thursday that “Yes we have in the last few weeks given clear conditions to affected countries on what they should do to see the borders reopened. I do not think that the Ministry has gotten credible reports that the conditions have been met and don’t forget, reopening the border is tied to meeting the conditions.
The official, who pleaded anonymity made it clear that “Government will only reopen the borders in strict compliance with ECOWAS trade agreements which were part of the terms already given to the affected economies.”
“Recall also that the government had set up a monitoring and patrol team comprising relevant security agencies in an exercise code-named, Operation Exercise Swift Response, but we need to see cause to believe that Niger, Chad and Benin Republic have substantially complied with the terms so given for the reopening of the border when we met last month in Abuja.
Recently at a press conference, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, noted that “Reopening the borders would depend on recommendations from the patrol team on whether Niger and Benin Republic have complied with the trade protocols.”
“We had a strategic meeting with the three countries, and what we agreed with our neighbours is to activate a joint border patrol, and the border patrol comprises 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 averred.