Nigeria appears to be taking the much-talked-about campaign against illegal/illicit imports to a whole new level. And that’s even as people continue to lament the hike in the price of certain commodities, especially food, since a partial border closure was first announced in August.
The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has just announced a complete ban on imports and exports through the country’s land borders effective immediately. By the new directive, exports will no longer be allowed via land borders until certain conditions are met.
Hameed Ali, comptroller-general of NCS, made this known at a press conference in Abuja on Monday.
He said the measure would enable security agencies to be able to scan the goods entering the country.
Ali stated that, for now, goods can only enter the country through the air and seaports, where they can undergo thorough scanning and certified fit for consumption.
“We hope that by the time we get to the end of this exercise, we would have agreed with our neighbours on the type of goods that should enter and exit our country,” he said.
“For now, all goods, whether illicit or non-illicit, are banned from going and coming into Nigeria.
“Let me add that for the avoidance of doubt that we included all goods because all goods can equally come through our seaports,” he remarked.
“For that reason, we have deemed it necessary for now that importers of such goods should go through our controlled borders where we have scanners to verify the kind of goods and how healthy they are for people.”
He insisted that despite the rights for movement of persons the enabling ECOWAS protocols, there must be primacy of security over such rights.
Ali, who was asked whether the federal government had not breached the rights of the citizenry to movement and international trade, said: “When it comes to security, all laws take back a seat.
“We want to our nation, we want make sure that our people are protected. You must be alive and well for you to begin to ask for your rights. Your rights come when you are well and alive.
“Go and the people in Maiduguri when Boko Haram was harassing their lives, the only question was survival, there is no question of right. This time Nigeria must survive first then before we begin to ask for our rights.”
The recent blockade is the latest of a series of measures taken by the Nigerian government to curb the importation of certain products, especially those that are believed to be produced in sufficient amounts locally.
Rice, a popular Nigerian staple, is one of such products. However, since the measures at the border first kicked in, the price of rice has only soared as traders lament scarcity and hoarding which has forced prices up. And rice is only of the many commodities that have seen increments in price.
Earlier today, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) asked rice farmers in the country not to increase the price of the product as a result of the border closure.
In a statement in Abuja on Monday, Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, urged members of the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria (RIMAN) and other stakeholders in the value chain not to hoard rice.
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