Nigeria’s Land Borders Remain Shut, Says Customs CG

•Notes only five strategic ones were reopened in 2022 

•Explains situation review process ongoing

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

Acting Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Mr. Wale Adeniyi, has clarified that the federal government, has not ordered the reopening of all land borders shut across the country since 2018.

Addressing newsmen yesterday after meeting with President Bola Tinubu at the State House, Abuja, the Customs boss said, the borders which were not among the five selected strategic borders reopened in 2022 still remained shut, although a thorough review of the situation was currently ongoing.

“Well, it is not true that all Nigerian borders have been opened. The status quo ante still exists in the borders. If you remember that the borders were completely shut down 2018 up until 2022, when some selected strategic borders were reopened, that is to the situation as we speak. And this was why we had an adhoc arrangement of a special unit coordinated by the office of the NSA to enforce that border closure.

“But, as we speak, about five of them have been reopened. Four were initially reopened and two more were open after that. And that is still the situation. There are ongoing processes to review this situation against the objective of the border closure itself. And the processes are not yet completed. And, of course, when the borders are reopened, it’s not going to be subject of rumour in any way,” he said.

Adeniyi disclosed that as part of efforts to enhance border security and regional integration, he planned to within one week visit the Republic of Benin to engage in discussions with their customs administration.

According to him, the aim was to foster collaboration, address border security concerns, facilitate importation across the border, and explore technological solutions to complex border challenges.

He said: “I can also tell you that part of my discussions with Mr. President is to actively engage customs administration’s across our borders, particularly the strategic ones that we must work and collaborate with for us to achieve common objectives of border security and regional integration.

“In the next one week, or thereabouts, I will be paying an official visit to Republic of Benin, to have discussions with the Customs Administration of Benin, and see how we can take forward the issue of collaborations between us, the issue of border security, the issue of importation across the border, and more importantly, how we can deploy technological solutions to very complex border problems.”

On the issue of fuel smuggling despite the removal of subsidies, the Acting Comptroller General acknowledged that complete eradication might take time, saying, while some border areas had reported seizures of fuel, the rate of smuggling had considerably reduced.

He expressed hope that ongoing policies being implemented by the government would eventually eliminate fuel smuggling across borders.

“Well, sometimes we just want to assume that because of the subsidy, the problem will evaporate one day. So, the sense I was trying to create was that it might take some time, before the issue of smuggling of fuel across the border will completely dissipate.

“So. in some border areas, we had reports of seizures of fuel and that is what we heard. So, it was the assumption generally, that because of the fuel is now sold at N500 per liter it will be a disincentive for smuggling. But contrary to that, we have seen that they are smuggling it across the borders. The rate at which this is being smuggled has reduced considerably.

“And it is our hope that by the time we mix some of these other policies that government is working on, it will completely eliminate the problems of smuggling of fuel across borders,” he said.

On his discussion with the president, Adeniyi said, “I had the opportunity to have very useful discussions and a very constructive engagement with His Excellency, Mr. President. And for all of you that have known him, I’ve worked with him very, very closely. You know that, Mr. President, is a very good listener.

“We had discussions regarding what Customs can bring to the table, to actualise the vision of renewed hope for Nigeria, what Customs can do in terms of addressing gaps in revenue generation in the Customs, our enforcement strategies, and, most importantly, the issue of promoting port efficiency and competitiveness of our ports.

“So these are generally the issues that we discussed. And I believe that in the days ahead, we will be prioritising some of these issues for the benefits of the Nigerian economy.”

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