By Steve Agbota
Importers and exporters have declared a cummulative loss of about N4.3 trillion due to land border closure in the last three years. This is even coming as Nigerians accused security agents of turning the reopening of the borders into extortion ventures.
During the period, over 1,450 Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating around the four land borders have also closed shop. In August 2019, the government closed all the land borders to curtail the illegal importation of drugs, small arms and agricultural produce into Nigeria from neighbouring West African nations.
However, last Friday, the Federal Government directed the reopening of Idiroko border, Ogun State (South-West Zone); Jibiya border post, Katsina State (North-West Zone); Kamba border, Kebbi State (North-West Zone) and Ikom border post, Cross River State (South-South Zone). This was coming after the Federal Government ordered the reopening of Mfum, Seme, Illela, and Maigatari borders in 2020.
Clearing agents who spoke with Daily Sun accused the security agents of turning the reopening of the borders, especially the Idiroko into extortion ventures even as business activities are yet to pick up at the borders.
Speaking with Daily Sun, an importer, Mr. Gideon Pedro Aremu, said that the border closure has not really achieved anything, except the hardship, losses, and suffering brought upon the traders and the entire border communities.
According to him, importers and exporters around these borders have lost over N4.3 trillion, while over 1,450 small businesses have closed shop due to the closure of the borders between 2019 and 2022. “I am an importer and I have been doing business around Nigerian borders for about four decades now. I do business around all these borders and I know how things work when it comes to transacting businesses. Within the period, the borders were shut, a lot of importers have gone into bankruptcy, as most of them could not pay back the loans they collected from the bank.
“When I said we lost that amount, I know what I’m saying. I’m not exaggerating at all! The N4.3 trillion was not even part of the revenue Customs Commands around these borders are losing annually.