President Buhari gives clarification on partial closure of borders

Timothy Choji, Abuja

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President Muhammadu Buhari has attributed the partial closure of Nigeria’s border with Benin Republic to the massive smuggling activities, especially of rice, taking place on that corridor.

The Nigerian leader gave the reason during an audience granted his Beninois counterpart, Patrice Talon, on the margins of the 7th Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD7), in Yokohama, Japan on Wednesday.

President Buhari, who expressed great concern over the smuggling of rice, said it threatened the self-sufficiency already attained due to his administration’s agricultural policies.

“Now that our people in the rural areas are going back to their farms, and the country has saved huge sums of money which would otherwise have been expended on importing rice using our scarce foreign reserves, we cannot allow smuggling of the product at such alarming proportions to continue,” the President explained.

The Nigerian President said the limited closure of the country’s western border was to allow Nigeria’s security forces develop a strategy on how to stem the dangerous trend and its wider ramifications.

Responding to the concerns raised by President Talon on the magnitude of suffering caused by the closure, President Buhari said he had taken note and would reconsider reopening in not too distant future.

He, however, disclosed that a meeting with his counterparts from Benin and Niger Republics would soon be called to determine strict and comprehensive measures to curtail the level of smuggling across their borders.

Peace PIAK