The Federal Government has on Monday informed of possible opening of its closed borders with West African neighbours soon,assuring that the borders would be opened as member countries comply with the Economic Community of West African State protocol,which it revealed were largely violated.
“By and large,what we agreed with our neighbours is to activate the joint border patrol,and that joint border patrol comprises of the Customs,and other security outfits in a bid to follow up laid down protocol by the ECOWAS. I know the committee had a meeting on 25th and 26th of November this year with the ECOWAS protocol and they will recommend a date for the opening of the border soon.”Niyi Adebayo,the minister of Industry Trade and Investment and Mariam Katagum, the Minister of state for Trade,Industry and Investment respectively said at a joint press conference with newsmen in Abuja.
“As we are all aware, what has been happening is breach of this protocol.You have containers arriving our borders,the seal has been broken into three four five vehicles and the integrity of such goods are in question on that container.Not having integrity of the container means compromise of protocol more especially on issues of arms,drugs are being smuggled in.
“The source of the origin of the goods are also compromised because of items being repackaged,these were some of the concerns we discovered before the federal government made up its mind to close the border.”
“By and large,what we agreed with our neighbour is to activate that joint border patrol,and that joint border patrol comprises of the Customs,and other security outfits in a bid to follow up laid down protocol by the ECOWAS. I know they had a meeting on 25th and 26th of November this year with the ECOWAS protocol and they will recommend a date for the opening of the border soon.”Both Ministers stated at the press conference.
Both Ministerd further informed that,”If you have been following closely,there was a meeting of the Economic Community of West African State,comprising of Benin,Niger,and Nigeria basically to address the issues concerning the joint border patrol.
“One of the things that led to the border closure was is the issue of non compliance with the ECOWAS treaty on goods coming into the country from Benin and from Niger are supposed to be escorted to our own customs for inspections intact without breaking the seal.”
Speaking further Mariam Katagum,the Minister of state for Industry Trade and Investment pointed out that the government is working with JAIZ Bank alongside the Small and Medium Scale Enterprise Development for intervention programmes for communities in border towns to ensure they don’t engage in smuggling activities.
She noted further that the federal government is also reviewing the Nigerian industrial Revolution Plan to ensure it plays it’s role in Nigeria’s industrialisation.
In his separate response while fielding questions from newsmen, Niyi Adebayo, the Minister of Industry Trade and Investment noted that the federal government would be engaging stakeholders on possible review of the policy with engagement of the stakeholders already slated for 28th of January and and possible bill to be sent to the National Assembly to that effect.
HARRISON EDEH, ABUJA