The Federal government has closed the land borders nationwide as part of efforts to enhance national security, citizens safety, and curb criminal activities.
Thousand of Nigerians were stranded at the Seme and Idiroko borders after the Nigeria security operatives shut the borders.
Our correspondent learnt that President Muhammadu Buhari had charged the military to be more decisive in restoring peace to the country, particularly states troubled by bandits, ordering them “not to spare bandits” that have been killing, maiming and extorting innocent citizens.
The border-closure move which is being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), according to a source, is aimed at further forestalling the activities of bandits, illegal migration, influx of prohibited items and boosting security of communities considered to be at the fringes of Nigeria and its neighbours.
All hitherto unmanned areas along large expanse of lands in border communities will be manned in such a manner deploying joint support, information sharing, coordination and back up among the security services.
Speaking with Daily Sun, the Chairman, Association of Nigerian Liscenced Customs Agents (ANLCA) Seme border chapter, Lasisi Fanu, confirmed the closure of the border.
Fanu, a frontline clearing agent said the exercise had left travelers stranded at the border with everything at a standstill.
He said: “When the Federal government decide to do something, there is nothing anybody can do about it. They (Customs) just informed us and they said we should continue with our normal business but unfortunately the normal business is not happening because everything is at a standstill.”
Fanu who decried the closure of the border wondered while Nigeria who is a signatory to many protocols would shut its borders.
“We have West Africa protocol treaty, and we have many treaties within West Africa (ECOWAS) and Nigeria is one of the corridors of ECOWAS.
“The exercise is affecting everybody even if you have your passports, you can’t go in or out of the border. The thing started on Monday morning; we believe that in due course ECOWAS will look into the issue but it’s beyond the Nigeria Customs,” he said.
It was also gathered that the government had through Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) asked foreigners with irregular documentation residing in the country to register within six months from July 2019.
Checks at the approved border routes revealed increase in travelers ostensibly taking advantage of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol on the free movement of persons and goods within West Africa.
Recall that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Tuesday said it would join other security, intelligence gathering agencies to conduct a joint border security exercise, codenamed “EX-SWIFT RESPONSE.”
In a press statement by the National Public Relation Officer of the service, Joseph Attah, a copy made available to Daily Sun, the operation is part of the measures put in place by the government to secure Nigeria’s land and maritime borders from smuggling and other nefarious activities.
Apart from the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), other agencies included the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), in collaboration with the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) as well as Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and other security and intelligence agencies.
The joint exercise is being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and will take place in four geopolitical zones, namely: South-South, South-West, North-Central and North-West.
But, it was gathered that the exercise had led to the closure of Nigerian borders to human movement, import and export between neighbouring countries.
However, a reliable source in the Nigeria Customs Service, Idiroko command, also confirmed that the closure of the border.
The source who craved anonymity said vehicular movement through the border had been stopped.
Asked when the border gates would be opened, the source said: “I don’t know but I know that the operation is led by the Nigeria Customs Service.”
Another source who spoke with Daily Sun on condition of anonymity said the government seemed worried that neighbouring countries had allowed their areas to be access points into Nigeria for illegal migration by some suspected criminal elements and shipment of banned or prohibited items that undermine national security and economy.
He said insecurity in some parts of the country had affected agricultural activities and was capable of threatening food production as some farmers had fled their fields due to incessant attacks by suspected foreign bandits.