Nigeria dares ECOWAS protocol, shuts down borders nationwide
The Federal Government on Monday announced the total closure of the nation’s borders, excluding the North-East, stating that no item can be in imported or exported through the nation’s land borders anymore.
Nigeria, a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a signatory to the sub-regional protocol on the free movement of persons and goods within West Africa.
Disclosing this on Monday during a press briefing in Abuja, the Customs Comptroller-General, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) said the measure would enable security agencies to be able to scan goods entering into the country.
Ali said, for now, goods can only enter the country through the air and seaports, where they can undergo thorough scanning and certified fit for consumption.
According to the Customs CG, “We hope that by the time we get to the end of this exercise, we would have agreed with our neighbours on the type of goods that should enter and exit our country.
“For now, all goods, whether illicit or non-illicit, are banned from going and coming into Nigeria.
“Let me add that for the avoidance of doubt, that we included all goods because all goods can equally come through our seaports.
“For that reason, we have deemed it necessary for now that importers of such goods should go through our controlled borders where we have scanners to verify the kind of goods and how healthy to our people can be conducted.”
He insisted that despite the rights for movement of persons through the enabling ECOWAS protocols, there must be primacy of security over such rights.
Ali, who was asked whether the Federal Government had not breached the rights of the citizenry to movement and international trade, said “when it comes to security, all other laws take back seat.
“We want to secure our nation. We want to make sure that our people are protected. You must be alive and well for you to begin to ask for your rights. Your rights come when you are well and alive.
“Go and ask the people in Maiduguri when Boko Haram was harassing their lives, the only question was survival, there is no question of right. This time, Nigeria must survive first, before we begin to ask for our rights,” he added.
Due to insurgency issues, the North-East is currently under the control of the Nigerian Armed Forces (NAF).