President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the extension of the closure of Nigeria’s border to January 31, 2020.
The Presidential directive was contained in a memo made available by Deputy Comptroller General of Customs in charge of Enforcement, Investigation and Inspectorate, Victor Dimka, on Sunday. The memo with reference number NCS/ENF/ABJ/221/S.45, and marked “Restricted” was dated November 1, 2019.
According to the memo, the need to achieve the strategic objectives of the exercise informed the extension of this phase by the President.
The memo reads in part, “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.”
The Back-Story: Nigeria’s major borders were shut after some truckloads of prohibited tramadol and codeine were intercepted in Lagos on August 16. The exercise code-named operation “Swift Response” had resulted in joint border operations by a combined team of security agencies.
Initially, the Presidency announced a partial border closure, before placing a total ban on imports and exports of goods through the land borders.
As published on Nairametrics, the Federal Government (FG) of Nigeria ordered the complete closure of the border, placing a ban on both legitimate and illegitimate movement of goods in and out of the country.
While providing further details on the complete border closure, the Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service, retired Col. Hameed Ali, disclosed that all goods must only enter through the legitimate air and seaports where they can undergo thorough scanning and certified fit for consumption.
According to him: “We hope that by the time we get to the end of this exercise, we would have exactly between us and our neighbours agree on the type of goods that should enter and exit our country.
“For now, all goods, whether illicit or non-illicit, are banned from going and coming into Nigeria. Let me add that for the avoidance of doubt that we included all goods because all goods can equally come through our seaports.
“For that reason, we have deemed it necessary for now that importers of such goods should go through our controlled borders where we have scanners to verify the kind of goods and how healthy to our people can be conducted.”
It should be noted that since the border closure, there have been reactions within the international communities, as neighbouring countries have constantly pleaded with the federal government to open up the border due to the spill-over effects on their economies.