President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the immediate opening of four land borders including Benin and Niger which it imposed in August 2019 to curb the smuggling of rice and other contraband items, the government said Wednesday.
The announcement was made by the Minister of Finance at the end of the 28th virtual FEC meeting on Wednesday. “Four land borders will be reopened immediately while the remaining borders are directed to be reopened on or before 31st of December,” Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed told a press conference.
The borders are Seme in the southwest, Illela in Sokoto State, Maigatari in the northwest, and Mfun in the south-south.
President Buhari has also directed other land borders to be opened by December 31st, making good his earlier announcement on December 8 to reopen its land borders.
He explained that the closure of the nation’s land borders was part of the efforts by the government to control the smuggling of weapons and drugs into the country.
Earlier, President Buhari stunned Nigeria’s neighbours when he unexpectedly closed the country’s borders to goods trade, saying the time had come to crush contraband trade.
The unilateral move was criticized for violating commercial and freedom of movement treaties signed under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The closure had a major impact especially on Benin, a key exporter of foodstuffs, secondhand vehicles etc to Nigeria through its port of Cotonou.
It had a devastating impact on border communities in Nigeria and was blamed for pushed up prices for staples in domestic markets.