Apparently bowing to pressures and pleas by governments and stakeholders across West African region, President Muhammadu Buhari may have ordered the reopening of the borders with the neighbouring effective January 2020.
Regional bodies such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), governments of Benin, Ghana and Mali as well as Nigerian stakeholders including Lagos lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) have appealed to the Nigerian government to reopen the borders, citing crippling effects on their economy and that of Nigeria.
The government had closed the borders in August in the wake of alarming rate of smuggling of goods into the country and proliferation of arms.
However, an inkling into the border reopening is contained in a memo by the Comptroller (Enforcement) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mr Victor Dimka, dated November 1, 2019.
“I am directed to inform you that it is observed that despite the overwhelming success of the operation, particularly the security and economic benefits to the nation, a few strategic objectives are you to be achieved.
“Against this background, Mr President has approved the extension of the exercise to January 31, 2020,’’ the memo said.
It added: “Consequently, you are requested to convey the development to all personnel for their awareness and guidance.
“Meanwhile, allowance for personnel sustenance and fuelling of vehicles for the period of extension will be paid as soon as possible.
“This is for your information and necessary action, please.”
It said the ongoing closure of borders has recorded an “overwhelming success’’ but that there are some objectives yet to be achieved, necessitating the extension of border closure till January 2020, the terminal date.