Reopened Borders Could Still Be Shut If Need Be, Presidency Warns

Garba Shehu

By Segun James

The presidency yesterday said the federal government could close the borders again if there is any to do so.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, made this known while speaking on a live television programme.

He said the government was still studying activities at four of the nation’s land borders which were reopened last week, adding that the government may close the borders again if there is “trouble”.

The federal government had on December 16 ordered the immediate reopening of the Seme Border in Lagos State, Illela Border in Sokoto State, Maigatari Border in Jigawa State, and Mfun Border in Cross River State.

Nigeria had in August 2019 closed its land borders to curtail illegal importation of drugs, small arms and agricultural products into the country from neighbouring West African nations.

But the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, announced last Wednesday after a Federal Executive Council meeting that the presidential committee set up on the matter had completed its job and had recommended the reopening of the borders.

The minister also said the President approved the immediate reopening of the four borders while other borders would be reopened hopefully before December 31, 2020.

But speaking on Tuesday, Shehu lamented that Nigeria’s neighbours had not cooperated with the country to curtail the influx of bandits and small weapons which he claimed are fueling the insecurity in Nigeria.

He said, “This is why the president considered the closure of the land borders for much of this time until they were reopened a week or so ago.

“This country has been talking to our neighbours, asking them that they cooperate with us in order to stop this influx of bandits, weapons, drugs and trafficking of Nigerian women but the cooperation has not measured up to the expectation of the president.

“This is why he was forced by the necessity of the situation to shut down the borders.

“Now, we are reopening in the hope that the agreement we struck with them, that they will work hand in hand with our own security agencies, with our own customs, on a trial basis, because not all entry points have been reopened. It will be tried, if it works well, then others will be reopened. If there is trouble, then the government may have a rethink.”

“It is the technical committee that will advise the government on how well things are working now that we have reopened four points out of the numerous that we have,” Shehu added.