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Border Reopening: Customs, Immigration Identify Grey Areas

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In spite of the recent federal government pronouncement that the nation’s land borders would be re-opened soon after being closed for over a year, indications from across the country are that state commands of the main security agencies manning the borders –the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) are still awaiting an official directive, hence there is no practical preparation at the borders yet to that effect.

Vigil360 Friday gathered that after identifying certain grey areas that may hinder effective manning of the borders, both the NIS and the NCS are strategizing to ensure effective security and scrutiny at the border posts when the re-opening order is given in order to separate genuine migrants from criminals.

The country’s land borders were closed since last year to, according to the government, curtail the smuggling and illegal importation of agricultural products, drugs, and small arms into the country.

Government was also piqued by large scale smuggling of petrol products from Nigeria to neighbouring countries.

The minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said at a media parley with State House correspondents in Abuja on November 25, 2020 that the presidential committee set up to look into the matter had completed its assignment and recommended the re-opening of the borders.

She said the committee would soon submit its report to President Muhammadu Buhari after which a formal pronouncement would be made on the matter.A source at the NIS who pleaded anonymity said re-opening of the country’s land borders would be based on strict compliance with the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) regional trade agreements.

The source who disclosed the service’s readiness to tackle both trade and security threats head-long, said, “We are conscious of the fact that the current security realities all over the world means that no country is immune to insecurity if required security measures are not taken.”

He acknowledged that emerging facts in business and investment development have consistently shown that one of the major factors in the promotion of investment is the ease of movement of people.

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