The Nigeria Customs Service says it had impounded a number of prohibited items worth over N2 billion just as 239 illegal immigrants had been arrested following the closure of the nation’s borders since August 2019.
The Deputy Controller of Customs and spokesman for the Federal Government Strategic Communication Team, Joseph Attah disclosed this at a forum on border closure which he held with representatives of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, those of the National Orientation Agency as well as fish and poultry farmers at the NCS, FOU, Zone ‘C’ office in Owerri.
Attah, who listed the items seized to include 4,321 bags of 50 kilograms of parboiled foreign rice, 8,982 jerry cans of petrol, 399 vehicles, life cartridges and hard drugs, explained that the borders were closed due to the rampant flagrant abuse of officially-established ECOWAS protocols by some neighbouring African countries as well as to secure, to build and to stimulate economic activities in the country.
The Customs image maker on Friday vowed that the closure of the borders would remain in force until such erring nations abide by the ECOWAS protocols, stressing that the action was not targeted at any particular part of the country, neither was it based on regional, tribal or religious considerations.
He said, “Flagrant abuse of established ECOWAS protocol is making our job difficult and we have raised this issue at various Customs fora with a number of MOUs written and signed to remedy the anomaly but all to no avail. Nigerians are industrious and business inclined but regrettably, everything produced here is believed to be inferior to foreign products and we find it difficult to support our local farmers.”
Attah attributed the unhealthy development partly to international conspiracy against the nation. He said, “Shoes manufactured in such places as Aba, Onitsha or Sokoto are usually labelled with foreign names and addresses to deceive and to attract unsuspecting buyers because the buyers themselves erroneously believe that foreign materials were better than those locally manufactured.
“Until African countries come back to the negotiating table and begin to meet the prescribed ECOWAS guidelines, we will not move an inch.”