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Border closure: Customs rake in N1.4 billion, arrests 319 suspected smugglers

AFTER the Federal Government’s decision to partially close the western border, and the Nigeria -Niger entry point, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Monday disclosed that the nation has so far saved N1.4 billion as a result of the policy.

Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd), the Controller General of Customs, disclosed this at a briefing in Abuja. He also announced that 317 suspected smugglers and 146 illegal migrants have been arrested within the period.

In a report by Channels, Ali had insisted on the partial border closure adding that the federal government decision has so far yielded anticipated outcomes, despite its effect on the price of imported rice which had significantly increased from N15, 000 to N21, 000 within two months.

He noted that the nation’s consumption of petroleum products has also dropped by 10.2 million litres.

The border was suddenly shut on 19th August after several reported cases of smuggling of agricultural commodities such as rice, tomatoes and livestock.

As a result, the Beninois as well as the regional body, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has continued to lament effect of the border closure.

Patrice Talon, the President of Benin had in August, during the side-line of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD7), in Yokohama, Japan, pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari over the border closure.

But Buhari has remained resolute in his decision. Rather, he explained that the nation has already invested so much in reviving its agriculture sector, yet arbitrary importation continued.

“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,” Buhari stated.

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