President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the continued closure of Nigerian land borders till January 31, 2020.
In a memo dated November 1, 2019 signed by the Comptroller of Nigeria Customs Service (Enforcement), Victor Dimka and addressed to Sector Coordinators the Custom authorities conveyed the approval of Mr. President that the ongoing Border closure under the ‘Exercise Swift Response’ be extended till the end of January 2020.
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 an extension of the exercise to January 31, 2020.
“Consequently, you are requested to convey the development to all personnel for their awareness and guidance.
The memo also revealed that some allowances have been approved for the Officers and men of the Customs Service who are currently engaged in the special operations.
“Allowances for personnel sustenance and fuelling of vehicles for the period of extension will be paid as soon as possible,” the memo further reads.
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) are currently collaborating in the ongoing operations.
The border closure has been eliciting various reactions from both within Nigeria and outside the country.
Nigeria’s neighbours who have been affected by the border closure have at many times called on the government of Nigeria to re-open the borders as it negates ECOWAS protocols and the newly signed he African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) treaty.
However, many Nigerians and international organisations including the World Bank have come out to support Nigeria describing the border closure as a viable option in reviving Nigeria’s economy and discourage illegal trade in the region.
On Saturday, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele told journalists in Edo State University, Inyanmho that the Border closure has helped Nigeria to curtail the proliferation of small arms, movement of terrorists and smuggling activities across Nigerian borders. The Comptroller General of Customs, Rt. Col. Hameed Ali announced on October 14, 2019 that Nigeria has so far saved N1.4 billion as a result of the border closure.
In the same vein, the Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege on Friday in Abuja told Nigerians that the border closure was in the best interest of Nigeria.