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Monday, 2 December 2019

Border Closure Not Targeted At Any Part Of The Country – FG

Border Closure Not Targeted At Any Part Of The Country – FG

The Federal Government, yesterday, said the closure of the nation’s borders was not targeted at any region in the country.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this during a visit to Jibia Border, Katsina State (Sector Four, North West) as part of the assessment of the ongoing border drill in the country.

The minister was accompanied on the visit by the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Mr Clem Agba; Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum; and the Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs, Mr Augustine Chidi.

The Minister’s remarks is coming after last week uproar on the floor of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament over the closure of the borders.

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The Speaker of the Parliament, Mustapha Cisse Lo, who had consistently condemned the closure, joined delegations from other countries to insist on the reopening of the borders.

The closure of the borders, had been widely reported to have adverse effects on some parts of the country that were benefiting directly from the situation along with neighbouring countries.

But speaking yesterday, Mohammed said: “this exercise is not targeted at any region in the country, neither is it designed to cripple businesses in any part of the country as some conspiracy theorists have been insinuating. As a matter of fact, since the exercise commenced over three months ago, local businesses across the country have continued to thrive as farmers and rice millers in particular are now having turnover on investments.”

Earlier, the minister said the main reason for embarking on the drill was to protect the country against transnational security concerns such as smuggling, proliferation of small arms and light weapons; irregular migration, as well as terrorism and armed banditry, among a host of other concerns.

Mohammed added that the drill at the border with the Republic of Niger has drastically curtailed the inflow of arms and ammunition into the country.

He also said bandits and terrorists are currently finding it hard to procure arms and ammunition, even as he said the nation recorded a drastic reduction in cases of cattle rustling, kidnapping, armed banditry which were predominant in the North-West region.

“These acts have now been significantly reduced.

“The arms and ammunition being used by violent extremists and criminal elements no longer make their way into the country through the land borders. Of course, this will also have a negative effect on the insurgency,” Mohammed added.

Mohammed further said smuggling of petroleum products out of Nigeria had been greatly reduced, stating that the closure of filling stations along the border was a huge success.

“There are hundreds of filling stations along the border. We counted many as we drove to the border this morning. They were set up purposely for smuggling. They don’t sell the fuel consignment they receive to the public. No. Plus 50 percent of them are owned by foreigners. Now that they are closed, we have recorded over 30 percent in domestic fuel consumption.

“We have recorded over 30 percent increase in revenue since the drill. Gentlemen, before the drill, the borders contributed nothing to the revenue. Nothing. Customs was recording about N4.5 billion daily. Since the closure, the figure has increased to between N5 and N8 billion daily.

“The North West Sector, of the four sectors affected by the drill, has recorded the highest success in terms of reduction of illegal migration, thanks to the drill.

“Nigeria will continue to engage with the neighbouring countries to ensure that all the concerns that led to exercise swift response are fully addressed.

“We call on all key stakeholders, including the media, to ensure that the desired objectives of this drill, that is, to advance a secured, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria, are fully accomplished,” Mohammed also said.

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