The Nigeria Customs Service has cleared the air on the likelihood of re-opening Nigeria’s land borders any time soon.
The Customs has said that the Federal Government of Nigeria will decide either to open the border or not, after reaching diplomatic agreement with neighbouring countries on issues that necessitated the closure.
The Federal Government had said about when it ordered the partial closure, that they were shut so as to strengthen the nation’s security and protect its economic interests, while later setting a deadline of January 31st for the likely reopening.
But, speaking with our correspondent, the spokesman of the Joint Committee in charge of the border closure, Deputy Comptroller of Customs Joseph Attah said that no date has been set for the reopening.
Attah insisted that the partial border closure would last until the Federal Government reached a diplomatic agreement with the affected countries.
“For now you are aware that there is ongoing diplomatic engagements, those engagements are on-going, when appropriate agreement are reached, government will decide whether to open the border or not” he said.
The disclosure reinforces President Muhammadu Buhari’s hint that reopening the borders, will be determined by the report of the tripartite committee made up of Nigeria, Benin and Niger Republic.
The President was reported to have said this when he received President Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday.
He explained that Nigeria’s decision to partially close the border was purely to safeguard national security.
The President of Burkina Faso is the Chairman of the ECOWAS Committee mandated to resolve the issue of border closure.
Buhari said Nigeria was very much mindful of the concerns of neighbouring countries on the issue, assuring that his administration will find an early and enduring solution.
“I will work as fast as I can as soon as I receive the report,’’ the President added.
Earlier, the President of Burkina Faso told Buhari that he came on the visit following the mandate of ECOWAS to resolve the issues that culminated in the partial closure of the border.
He added that some of the challenges had been discussed and agreed on, urging the Nigerian leader to reconsider the position of the country.
Also speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said Buhari was asked to consider possible interim measures on the border closure by allowing the import of perishable goods.
He said: “One of the issues that came up, some of the ware houses along the borders and the request that as part of the solution to the problem that these ware houses should be dismantled.
“So, President Kabore was looking at the possibility of interim measures of allowing perishable products/goods to start coming in immediately.
“More essentially, Mr President (Buhari) pointed out that we have certain challenges, certain reasons why these borders were closed and this has to do with illegal import of rice, weapons, small arms – light weapons and also drugs”.