Nigeria lists conditions to reopen borders with neighbours

Seme Border used to illustrate the story.
Seme Border used to illustrate the story.

The Nigerian government on Monday gave a list of conditions that must be met for it to reopen its borders.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, alongside members of the Inter-ministerial committee on the temporary partial closure of land borders, held a press briefing in Abuja to discuss the issues.

The nation’s borders have been closed for several weeks in a move the government said was to grow the local economy and reduce illegal importation.

The issue has generated controversy in the economy with many condemning the government for not providing palliatives to curb the expected rise in basic goods for families.  Some also argue that the border closure violates Nigeria’s agreements within ECOWAS and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

Other Nigerians have, however, commended the initiative saying it would help increase local production and use of made-in-Nigerian goods.

PREMIUM TIMES also reported officials of the federal government saying the closure has led to increased revenue for the Nigeria Customs Service and a reduction in the volume of petrol smuggled outside Nigeria. Mr Buhari has since extended the border closure to January next year.

Conditions

Some conditions were agreed upon by members of the Nigerian side of the tripartite committee set up to review the policy.

The conditions as stated by Mr Onyeama are as follows:

–          Any import coming from outside an ECOWAS region and imported into an ECOWAS member state must maintain its original packaging. They must be escorted from the port directly to the designated entry point in the Nigerian border, presented to the Nigerian customs with their original packaging. Compromises will not be tolerated.

–          Goods produced predominantly in ECOWAS member states must satisfy the ECOWAS rules of origin to avoid any possibility of downplay. Goods must be majorly produced in ECOWAS countries.

If the goods are coming from outside ECOWAS, the value addition must be over 30 per cent for it to be accepted within the framework of the Economic Trade Liberalisation Scheme that ECOWAS countries have to promote trade among them.

This is to avoid countries outside member states from exporting their goods into ECOWAS region repackaged, as though they are coming from an ECOWAS region.4

–          All warehouses along the shared borders of Nigeria must be dismantled.

–          Goods being transported must be put in proper recognized packaging. No longer will we have goods of all shapes and sizes going through the borders. To maintain the best practices of those goods, an accepted condition for packaging will be established.

–          In regards to free movements of persons, all persons moving through Nigerian borders must present themselves through recognized entry points and must have recognized travel documents (country passport).

Review

In two weeks Nigeria will be hosting a tripartite meeting (Niger, Benin, and Nigeria) to further review the policy.

Heads of ministries of foreign affairs, interior, finance, customs, immigration, NIA and other security segments will form the committees of each country represented.

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