More knocks for Nigeria over borders closure


More knocks for Nigeria over border closure


By Tasie Theodore


There are more knocks for the Federal Government of Nigeria over its unilateral and continued closure of its land borders with its neighbours.

The latest is coming from the immediate past Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Shehu Sani.

In a tweet, Sani lamented that the action was in default of the protocols of the Economic Commission of West African States, ECOWAS as well as the fledgling African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA, which the country assented to in July 2019 in Niamey, Niger Republic.

“Whatever is the economic importance or exigencies of land border closure, it openly violates the ECOWAS protocols and stand against the AfCFTA Agreement,” the senator who had represented Kaduna in the 8th National Assembly averred.

In earlier debates on the subject at the National Assembly, some current serving senators had equally faulted the measure.

Sen. Abba Moro, (PDP-Benue), who was himself a former Minister of the Interior is one of them. He insists during one of those sessions that the closure of the land borders is a wrong option. His fellow Benue senator and former governor, Gabriel Suswan also believes that the measure is not the way to go. Said Moro:

“Nigeria has only 87 legal land border routes.

“We have over 1000 illegal routes and the immigration can’t man it.

“When you close the legitimate routes, the illegitimate routes are used.”

Some other commentators have also made the point that rather than close the borders, government should optimise personnel reform within the Customs and Immigration Services while also improving the technology content of operations therein.

As if bowing to such calls, President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly endorsed the purchase and deployment of drones to man the borders. But nothing has been said about the possibility of personnel changes at the critical border agencies.

Ghana, Niger, Benin Republic have publicly complained over the negative effects the closure has been having on their economies to no avail, with additional calls by ECOWAS similarly being rebuffed.

Ghana on Wednesday sent her Foreign Minister, Shirley Botchway to hold talks with Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, on the issue.




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