JOSEPH Attah, spokesperson of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has refuted the claim that seme border has been closed to all forms of business and that security officials have stopped all activities.
He said the border was partially closed due to smuggling and other illegal activities but insisted that people with legitimate reasons and businesses are allowed free access.
“The borders are not closed. People with legitimate businesses and reasons are moving across the borders. If people stayed away from the borders, then ask if they are into legitimate businesses,” Attah said.
The restriction followed ongoing military exercise conducted by the customs, immigration, police and military personnel codenamed ‘Ex-Swift Response’ at the border which has raised questions and putting people on edge at the border.
Attah said the restriction is just precautionary security routine that calls for no alarm.
The exercise spearhead by the Office of the National Security Adviser comes on as a directive of the Federal Government focused at securing the nations land and maritime boarders.
“In the morning of Wednesday, we heard that people were not being allowed in and out of the borders, so we quickly called our people to correct that aspect of the joint military exercise.
“The exercise is not meant to debar people from moving freely in and out of the borders as long as they have legitimate reasons to be there. That was on the morning of Wednesday,” he said.
However, the spokesman reportedly said it is likely the Nigeria-Benin Republic border could remain partially closed for the next 28 days as joint border security exercise would be conducted in 25 states across the South-South, South-West, North-Central and North-West zones.
It is to be recalled that in 2016, Audu Ogbeh, the former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, had condemned the porosity of the Seme border.
According to him, laxity at the border renders efforts of government useless in the fight against the entry of contraband goods into the country.