President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said the partial closure of Nigeria’s border with the Benin Republic was as a result of massive smuggling activities happening between the two countries.
Concise News understands that the Nigerian leader gave the reason during a session with the Benin president, Patrice Talon, on the margins of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD7), in Yokohama, Japan.
Buhari, who expressed great concern over the smuggling of rice, said it threatened the self-sufficiency already attained due to his administration’s agricultural policies.
He said, “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.”
The Nigerian President said the limited closure of the country’s western border was to allow Nigeria’s security forces to develop a strategy on how to stem the dangerous trend and its wider ramifications.
Responding to the concerns raised by President Talon on the magnitude of suffering caused by the closure, Buhari said he had taken note and would reconsider reopening it in the not too distant future.
He, however, disclosed that a meeting with his counterparts from Benin and Niger Republics would soon be called to determine strict and comprehensive measures to curtail the level of smuggling across their borders.