The Acting Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi has confirmed that Nigerian boarders with neighbouring countries remain closed.
This is coming against the backdrop of the news making the rounds in social media that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has ordered the reopening of the borders.
The Comptroller General, who spoke to newsmen today, July 11, shortly after an audience with President Tinubu at the Presidential villa, Abuja, said that it is not true that all Nigerian borders have been opened.
“The status quo ante still exists in the borders.
“If you remember that the borders were completely shut down in 2018 up until 2022, when some selected strategic borders were reopened, that is to the situation as we speak.
“And this was why we had an adhoc arrangement of a special unit coordinated by the Office of the NSA to enforce that border closure.
“But as we speak, about five of them have been reopened. Four were initially reopened and two more were opened after that. And that is still the situation.
“There are ongoing processes to review this situation against the objective of the border closure itself. And the processes are not yet completed.
“And of course, when the borders are reopened, it’s not going to be subject of rumour in any way.”
Bashir Adewale Adeniyi said that the discussion he had with the President bordered how to actively engage customs administration’s across the borders, particularly the strategic ones.
He said that the President stressed the need for them to work and collaborate to achieve common objectives of border security and regional integration.
“In the next one week, or thereabout, I will be paying an official visit to Republic of Benin, to have discussions with the Customs Administration of Benin, and see how we can take forward the issue of collaborations between us, the issue of border security, the issue of importation across the border, and more importantly, how we can deploy technological solutions to very complex border problems.
Bashir Adewale Adeniyi expressed gratitude to the President for finding him worthy of being appointed the Acting Comptroller General of customs and also to felicitate with him for his recent appointment as the chairman of ECOWAS.
“For us in the Nigerian Customs Service, ECOWAS represents a very bold attempt to forge regional integration, cooperation in border security and monetary affairs.
“And it is so good to note that my assumption of Office coincided with that period when attention will be focused on Nigeria holding the flag of regional integration.
“I had the opportunity to have very useful discussions and a very constructive engagement with Mr. President. And for all of you that have known him, I’ve worked with him very, very closely. You know that, Mr. President, is a very good listener.
“We had discussions regarding what customs can bring to the table, to actualize the vision of renewed hope for Nigeria, what customers can do in terms of addressing gaps in revenue generation in the customs, our enforcement strategies, and, most importantly, the issue of promoting port efficiency and competitiveness of our ports.
“So these are generally the issues that we discussed. And I believe that in the days ahead, we will be prioritising some of these issues for the benefits of the Nigerian economy.
On the report recently that the government is going to merge customs with some other revenue generating agencies like FIRS under one particular agency, the Customs Boss said that he too read the report but that there is no details yet.
“What I feel is that there is a common base between all those agencies that are generating revenue for the country. And then there are some cross cutting issues.
“There are some areas where we overlap. And there are some areas where we can complement each other. “But in terms of bringing the agencies together under one organization, we are yet to get details of that. And we’ll be waiting to get the details and see how that pans out.”
On the report that despite fuel subsidy removal, smuggling of fuel still persists, he said that it might take some time before the issue of smuggling of fuel across the border is completely dissipated.
“So in some border areas, we had reports of seizures of fuel and that is what we heard. So it was the assumption generally, that because of the fuel is now sold at N500 per liter, it will be a disincentive for smuggling. But contrary to that, we have seen that they are smuggling it across the borders.
“The rate at which this is being smuggled has reduced considerably. “And it is our hope that by the time we mix some of these other policies that government is working on, it will completely eliminate the problems of smuggling of fuel across borders.”