Niger Republic bans rice exportation to Nigeria

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The Republic of Niger has banned the exportation of rice to Nigeria in any form, the comptroller-general of Nigeria Customs Service Hameed Ali said on Monday.

Ali while speaking to journalists in Abuja said the Niger Republic took the decision because Nigeria had closed its borders.

“Goods that are on the prohibition list in Nigeria, such as rice, used clothes, poultry products and vegetable oil should not be exported to the country,” Ali said.

“As a result of this border closure, Niger Republic has already circulated an order banning the exportation of rice in any form to Nigeria.”

Nigeria had closed its borders to neighbouring African country Benin Republic since early August.

President Muhammadu Buhari said the border closure with the Benin Republic was to tame the ‘massive’ smuggling activities, especially of rice, taking place on that corridor.

Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, in a statement said Buhari expressed great concern over smuggling activities.

He noted that the activities of the smugglers were threatening the self-sufficiency feat of his government’s agricultural policies.

“Now that our people in the rural areas are going back to their farms, and the country has saved huge sums of money which would otherwise have been expended on importing rice using our scarce foreign reserves, we cannot allow smuggling of the product at such alarming proportions to continue,” Buhari said.

President Buhari said the limited closure of the country’s western border was to allow the security forces to develop a strategy to stem the dangerous trend and its wider ramifications.

The restriction at Seme border to the Benin Republic followed the joint border security exercise ordered by the government and aimed at securing Nigeria’s land and maritime boundaries.

The exercise, code-named, ‘Ex-Swift Response’, was being jointly conducted by Customs, Immigration, police and military personnel and coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

While Nigerians have expressed displeasure over the border closure which had caused a hike in the price of rice in Nigeria, Ali insists that the closure continues.

“The government, through diplomatic channels will continue to engage our neighbours to agree to comply with ECOWAS Protocol on transit,” Ali said.