President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the extension of the ongoing closure of Nigeria’s borders till January 31, 2020.
The directive was announced in a memo signed and dated November 1, 2019, by Victor Dimka, the Comptroller of Customs in charge of Enforcement, Investigation and Inspectorate, and addressed to Sector Coordinators of the Joint Border Operation Drill – Sectors 1, 2, 3, and 4.
The content of the memo was published by Channels television.
The extension is said to have been necessitated by the need to meet up with other strategic objectives of the federal government
Nigeria closed its land borders in August, three months after signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA).
Some Nigerians have criticised the border closure, saying it affects the government’s trade commitment with West African countries as well as the ACFTA, and has also led to an increase in prices of otherwise imported products.
The government has however defended the closure, saying the measure is to curb the influx of smuggled goods from neighbouring countries such as Benin, Niger and Cameroon. The goods mostly involved are used cars, food products like rice and poultry, and also illegal arms.
Since the closure, the Nigerian customs has announced an increase in revenue, while the state oil company, NNPC, has also reported a decrease in the volume of petrol smuggled outside Nigeria.
Mr Dimka, in the memo, said the operation (Exercise Swift Response) has recorded “overwhelming success,” considering its benefits to the nation’s economy and security.”
The memo read:
“I am directed to inform you that it is observed that despite the overwhelming success of the operation, particularly the security and economic benefits to the nation, a few strategic objectives are yet to be achieved.
“Against this background, Mr President has approved the extension of the exercise to January 31, 2020.
“Consequently, you are requested to convey the development to all personnel for their awareness and guidance.
“Meanwhile, allowance for personnel sustenance and fuelling of vehicles for the period of extension will be paid as soon as possible.
“This is for your information and necessary action, please.”
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