The Nigerian government plans to reopen its land borders, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.
He explained that the closure of the nation’s land borders was part of the efforts by the government to control the smuggling of weapons and drugs into the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari stated this on Tuesday at a security meeting with members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
“Now that the message has sunk in with our neighbours, we are looking into reopening the borders as soon as possible,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by Garba Shehu, his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity.
The President asked the 36 state governors to work more with traditional rulers and community members to improve local intelligence gathering that would aid the work of security agencies.
After listening to presentations by a governor from each of the six geo-political zones on their specific security challenges, he noted that in the old order, communities identified newcomers and passed information to constituted authority.
According to President Buhari, the sub-region is no longer safe, more so with the collapse of the regime of the former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, and the cross-border movement of weapons and criminals.
He gave an overview of the security situation in each of the zones, stressing that his administration had done well in the North East and South-South.
The President described the reports of illegal refineries and the blowing up of pipelines in the South-South as worrisome and asked the governors to stop local rogues from sabotaging oil installations.
On the issue of banditry and kidnapping reported in each of the geo-political zones, he said, “Security is important, and we must secure the whole country.
“We are thinking very hard on the issue of kidnapping. We will make it possible for the military to get to the bandits and kidnappers and eliminate them.”
The Nigeria government had announced a partial closure of the nation’s land borders in August 2019, following the increasing rate of smuggling of contrabands and other items into the country.
On February 10, 2020, the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government set up a committee headed by President Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso to study and make a full report on Nigeria’s land border closure with neighbouring countries.
The decision was taken at an extraordinary session of ECOWAS leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.