President Buhari Aludes Closure of Nigeria-Benin Border to Contraband Trafficking
The Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has said the shut down of the Nigeria-Benin Border is due to the massive smuggling of contraband goods, especially rice,through the volatile corridor.
President Buhari made this known during a hearing session granted to his Beninese counterpart, Patrice Talon, on the sidelines of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7), in Yokohama, Japan today.
President Buhari, who expressed great concern over the smuggling of rice, said that it threatened the self-sufficiency already achieved through the agricultural policy of his administration.
According to him, "... now that producers are returning to their farms and the country has saved huge sums of money that would otherwise have been spent on importing rice with our scarce foreign exchange reserves, we can no longer afford the smuggling of food products to such alarming proportions. "
The Nigerian president said the limited closure of the country's western border was intended to allow Nigerian security forces to devise a strategy to curb the dangerous trend and its wider ramifications.
Responding to President Talon's concerns about the magnitude of the suffering caused by the closure, President Buhari said he had taken note of it and would reconsider reopening in the very near future.
However, he revealed that a meeting with his counterparts from the Republics of Benin and Niger would soon be called to define strict and comprehensive measures to reduce the level of contraband across their borders.
Earlier, President Talon said he had called the Nigerian president following the serious consequences of the closure of the Nigerian border on his people.
President Buhari also received in audience South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, during which issues relating to common bilateral relations, including the murders of Nigerians in South Africa, were discussed. The issue will be thoroughly examined before the official visit of the Nigerian leader to Pretoria in October 2019.