President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the partial closure of Nigeria’s border with neighbours, Benin Republic, is due to the massive smuggling activities, especially of rice, into the country.
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The President during an audience granted Patrice Talon, President of Benin Republic, on the margins of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD7), in Yokohama, Japan on Wednesday.
Femi Adesina, the President’s spokesman in a statement on Wednesday, said Buhari expressed great concern over the smuggling of rice.
He said the activities of the smugglers threatened the self-sufficiency already attained due to his administration’s agricultural policies.
“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,” he said.
He stated that the limited closure of the border was to allow Nigeria’s security forces to develop a strategy on how to stem the dangerous trend and its wider consequencies.
Buhari however assured the Beninoise leader he had taken note of the magnitude of suffering caused by the closure, and would reconsider reopening in the not-too-distant future.
He disclosed that a meeting with his Benin and Niger Republic counterparts would soon be called to determine strict and comprehensive measures to curtail the level of smuggling across their borders.
Also Buhari received in audience, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, with issues of common bilateral relations, especially the killings of Nigerians in the country, discussed.
“The matter will be further examined during the Nigerian leader’s official visit to Pretoria in October 2019,” Adesina stated.