Buhari: Border Closure Aimed at Rice, Arms Smuggling

  • Vows not to reopen border until committee submits report

By Omololu Ogunmade

President Muhammadu Buhari Monday in London, the United Kingdom, said the partial closure of Nigeria’s borders was not done mainly to forestall the smuggling of only food items, notably rice but also to fight the influx of arms and ammunition, and hard drugs into the country.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the president made the disclosure while holding a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the UK-Africa Investment Summit 2020 with the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana.

Buhari was responding to a plea by
Akufo-Addo for “an expedited process, because the Nigerian market is significant for certain categories of business people in Ghana.”
Adesina said Buhari told his Ghanaian counterpart, that he could not keep his eyes open, and watch youths being destroyed through cheap hard drugs, and as well allow a compromise of the country’s security through the influx of small arms with impunity.

“When most of the vehicles carrying rice and other food products through our land borders are intercepted, you find cheap hard drugs, and small arms, under the food products. This has terrible consequences for any country,” Buhari said.

He said he regretted that the partial border closure was having a “negative economic impact on our neighbours,” adding that “we cannot leave our country, particularly the youths endangered.”

The statement said Buhari noted that the Sahel region had been saturated with small arms, which he said accounted for severe security challenges in Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.

“We are in fact the biggest victims,” he lamented.

Buhari vowed not to reopen the borders until the committee set up on the matter submits its final report and decision taken on it.

“We will get things sorted out. Our farmers, especially those who grow rice, now have a market, and are happy, and we are also concerned about hard drugs and weapons.

“Once the committee comes up with its recommendations, we will sit and consider them,” he said.

Adesina said Akufo-Addo reasoned with Nigeria on the need for the country to protect its citizens, but yet pleaded with Buhari for a hasty process leading to its reopening.