Nigeria Has Partially Closed The Border It Shares With A West African Neighbour – This Is Why

By  |  August 30, 2019

For several days now, the border between Nigeria and its West African neighbours, have stayed closed on the Nigerian end, preventing people and goods from entering into Nigeria in what seemed more of a total closure at times that a partial one. 

Many people had been left stranded at Seme Border for hours and even days owing to the closure of the border and the fact that there were no indications as to why the Nigerian government shut its doors to goods and people coming from the Republic of Benin only caused more exasperation. But some new information has just come to light as to why Nigeria is tightening up its end of the Seme Border.

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has revealed that the partial closure of the Nigeria-Benin border was to restrict the massive illegal importation of rice into Nigeria. 

The Nigerian President made this known during a session with his Beninois counterpart, Patrice Talon, on the sidelines of the ongoing 7th Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD7), in Yokohama, Japan, which kicked off on Wednesday and is scheduled to draw to a close on Friday, 30th August.

According to a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, President Buhari said the wanton illegal importation of rice across the Nigeria-Benin border was jeopardizing his administration’s food self-sufficiency policy and the partial border closure thus became necessary.

The statement further revealed that the partial closure of the country’s western border was intended to allow some time for Nigerian security forces to come up with an iron-clad strategy on how to stifle the unwholesome trend and the potential consequences. 

During the session, the Beninoise president also related his fears with regards to the untold hardship caused by the partial closure but President Buhari’s response about it being only a temporary measure may have allayed the fears of his Beninoise counterpart. Nigeria’s president also hinted at reopening the border in the not too distant future. 

Seme Border; a major border that crosses between Nigeria and Benin is considered the busiest land crossing in Nigeria. The border serves as the point of entry for thousands of trucks that shuttle between both countries bearing goods on a daily basis. As is common with most borders, transportation of contraband products is often a problem.

Earlier this month, the border was shut after some truckloads of prohibited tramadol and codeine were intercepted in Lagos.

Speaking earlier on the closure, the Spokesman for the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Joseph Attah, disclosed that the border could remain closed for the next 28 days. Also, Attah stated that the joint security team at the border will stay in place for the next 28 days.

“However, as I have always repeated, the borders are not closed. People with legitimate businesses and reasons are moving across the borders. If people stayed away from the borders, then ask if they are into legitimate businesses,” the NCS spokesman was quoted as saying.

The most recent closure, however, can be attributed to a recent policy directive by the Nigerian government which is aimed at stopping the importation of food products that can be produced in sufficient amounts locally.

In an earlier development, President Buhari had asked the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) to place stiff restrictions on forex intended for import of milk, rice, and several other products. And the partial closure of Seme Border does like a chapter from a familiar playbook.

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