Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Federal Government is planning a tripartite meeting, comprising Nigeria, Republic of Niger and the Republic of Benin; to tackle insecurity and cross border-related issues.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama disclosed this at a meeting with his Agriculture and Rural Development counterpart, Audu Ogbeh, in Abuja, yesterday.
The joint ministerial meeting was held in preparation for the forthcoming tripartite anti-smuggling committee meeting comprising Nigeria, Benin, and the Republic of Niger.
Also at the meeting were the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) , Mohammed Babandede and the Comptroller General of Customs (NCS), Colonel Hameed Ali.
Speaking after the meeting, Onyeama said President Muhammadu Buhari set up a committee comprising the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Justice, Finance, Interior, including the NIS and the NCS to ask the governments of Niger and Benin to also set up similar committees in the two countries and also, to meet on the matter.
“We are planning to have a meeting of those committees in the very near future. This was a preparatory meeting, amongst ourselves, to go through again, all the issues and to come up with a common position and present that to Mr. President, so that we can have a basis for engaging with those other countries,” Onyeama said.
The minister added that current efforts aimed at tackling smuggling in the borders of the affected countries would yield results.
“I think the political will is really there, now, to finally and definitively address this issue,” Onyeama stated.
Earlier, Ogbeh said the meeting, under Onyeama’s chairmanship , discussed issues on the nation’s borders, particularly on security and how they affect local economic activities.
“Mr. President has asked us to send in some recommendations. I think we are done.
“We are recommending that we deploy all the diplomatic channels, according to the agreements we had before, to reach a situation where we can bring to an end issues which are not in line with our policy and our survival,” Ogbeh said.
He further said the perennial insecurity in the country, weapons coming into the country and smuggling, necessitated the meeting.