No definitive end to border closure, says customs CG

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Rrd. Col. Hameed Ali, comptroller-general of the Nigeria Customs Service, says there is no definitive end to the partial border closure.

The Nigerian government has closed its borders since August for the purpose of checking smuggling.

Officials of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had asked the Nigerian government to find a permanent solution to the challenge of smuggling and reopen its borders.

The Ecowas parliament said the border closure might hamper the implementation of the free trade agreement within the region.

But speaking with journalists during his operational visit to Idiroko border in Ogun state, on Thursday, Ali said the closure will last until the protocols on the movement of goods and persons as established by ECOWAS are strictly adhered to by neighbouring West African countries.

Dismissing speculations on when the closure will end, the CG said the closure was never meant to end on the 28th day of the action.

He said adhering to the basic protocols on the movement of persons and goods would be mutually beneficial to the countries.

“We are touring the operations sectors. As you know, we are doing an operation called ‘border drill’ and as a result of that, we have deployed our men in most of these commands.

“There are three reasons why we go round. First is to convey Mr. President’s commendation to our troops and personnel that have been deployed to carry out those drills.

“Second is to further explain to them the reasons why we are doing this drill and third is to get feedback on the ground as to the successes and challenges.

“It was never meant to end at the end of the 28th day. As for planning purposes, we take it step by step. Phase one was when we put 28 days. The border drill has no definitive end, but what we believe we want is that we want to establish a relationship with our neighbours and this relationship is mutual.

“And unless we get to that point, where we now sit down and agree on the way we can complement one another, the way we can adhere to the protocols of movement of goods and persons, we would not have achieved.

“So, we will keep this drill going on until we get to the point where we now sit down and agree on the basic things that will mutually benefit us and mutually enhance our coexistence and ensure that the protocols established by ECOWAS, not by Nigeria, are adhered to strictly.”

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