The Federal Government Monday announced a total ban on the importation and exportation of goods through the land borders nationwide.
It was gathered that the decision was in furtherance of the on-going joint border operation, tagged, Exercise Swift Response.
Daily Trust reports that the operation began on August 20, 2019, involving the Nigeria Customs Service and the Immigration Service with support from the Army and other security agencies.
The joint border security is being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and covers the four geopolitical zones including South-south, South-west, North-central and the North-west.
Briefing newsmen in Abuja, the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) said: “The issue of movement of goods is not the same thing with movement of persons.
Let’s understand that all perishable items are on prohibition whether on export or import. Therefore nobody can carry tomato to the border to import or export.
So it makes it easier for us to close and ensure that all goods for now are banned from being exported or imported through our land borders.
“That is to ensure that we have total control over what comes in and what we do. We are strategising on how best the goods can be handled when we get to when this operation will relax,” he said.
Ali, however, advised local dealers who want to export or to import items to use the seaports which is the only access at present.
On when the operation which is nearly two months will end, Ali said, “It is as long as it will take our neighbours to come to the table and agree to execute exactly what was agreed during former Olusegun Obasanjo’s time which is simple adherence to ECOWAS transit procedure.
That has not happened.” Meanwhile, the Lagos, Abuja and Kaduna Chambers of Commerce as well as economic experts have kicked against the ban on importation and exportation of goods through the country’s land borders.
The Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) described the government’s decision to shut down its land borders to import and export as inimical to on-going efforts by the African Union to boost inter-state trade, commerce and investment within the continent.
The Director General of LCCI, Muda Yusuf said: “It is very unfair and not good for business.
“This is a very unusual decision and it is not a good signal we are sending to the African continent ahead of the commencement of the AfCFTA,”
Ban will further increase inflation – Experts
Experts have complained that the closure of the land borders could increase the inflation rate in the country.
Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, University of Abuja, Dr Yelwa Mohammed, said for federal government to close down the border without making any secondary arrangement or palliative measures to alleviate the suffering of the masses is not a good idea.
He said stopping the importation of essential commodities, including rice and spaghetti is a good idea only if proper orientation has taken place.
Dr Yelwa complained that what the country produces domestically cannot meet up with the demand of the masses, adding that Nigeria has still not started producing rice in commercial quantities.
“If you see what is happening in the local markets now, they repackage local rice and sell it at exorbitant prices because border has been closed.