By Egena Sunday Ode
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday approved the reopening of four land borders with immediate effect, while others will be reopened subsequently.
The Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning Mrs Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of the weekly Federal Executive Council,FEC, meeting held virtually at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo presided over the meeting while President Buhari joined from his Daura country home.
According to Ahmed, despite the reopening, the restriction on the importation of some commodities, like rice and other products, would continue to be enforced.
The borders opened for now include Seme Border in the Southwest, Ilela and Matagari Borders in the Northwest and Mfun border in the Southsouth.
The approval by the President, according to Ahmed, followed the recommendations of a committee set up by Buhari to view the protracted borders closure.
The Minister said: “I am here to just report that His Excellency the president approved the recommendations of the committee that I chaired with the Minister of Trade and Investment as member, Minister of Interior as member, Minister of Foreign Affairs as member, National Security Adviser as member and Comptroller General of Customs.
“This committee was mandated to review and advise on the reopening of the Nigerian borders and after recommendations, the president approved the reopening of four land borders, namely: Seme in the South-west part of the country, Ilela in the North-west part of the country, Maitagari in the North-west part of the country and Mfun in the South-south part of the country.
“So, these four land borders will be reopened immediately while the remaining borders are directed to be reopened on or before 31st of December, 2020.
“Mr. President has also directed on the reopening of the borders that while others are being reopened, the ban on importation of rice, poultry and other banned products still subsists and will be implemented by border patrol team.”
On the gains of the border closure, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, said:
“We have many advantages to the border closure, it has given the security agencies an opportunity to access the problems at the borders particularly with regard to smuggling.
“As you are all aware before the border closures a lot of petroleum products were being smuggled out from the borders to West African countries and the border closures has created a situation that has tactically stopped that, they have been able to calculate the amount of petroleum products being smuggled out by calculating the amount that is being lifted now compared to what was being lifted before.
“The issue of smuggling of rice to the country has reduced drastically and we are hoping that our agencies will be able to sustain that so also is the issue of poultry smuggling.
“Also very important is the issue of importation of small arms and weapons into the country, that also has stopped. We are hoping and we are sure that this time around, our security agencies will be able to see that that doesn’t reoccur again. These are the issues that caused the closure of the borders in the first place and we have been able to put a stop to them.”