We’ll open borders when ECOWAS respect movement treaty – DG Custom, Ali

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The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col Hameed Ali (rtd), says Nigerian borders closure would last until the protocols on movement of goods and persons as established by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are strictly adhered to by the neighboring countries.

Speaking with newsmen on Thursday during his operational visit to Idiroko border in Ogun State, Ali insisted that there is no end in sight to the partial closure of land borders until the condition is met.

The Customs CG who was flanked by the Controller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede, noted that adherence to protocols on movement of persons and goods would ensure mutual benefit of the countries and enhance coexistence.

Ali maintained that the border closure was never intended to be in force within 28 days. While commending the joint security operatives deployed for the enforcement of the policy, Ali said President Buhari himself expressed satisfaction over the operations.

“We are touring the operations sectors. As you know, we are doing an operation called ‘border drill’ and as a result of that, we have deployed our men in most of these commands.

“There are three reasons why we go round. First is to convey Mr. President’s commendation to our troops and personnel that have been deployed to carry out those drills.

“Second is to further explain to them the reasons why we are doing this drill and third is to get feedback on the ground as to the successes and challenges.

“It was never meant to end at the end of the 28th day. As for planning purposes, we take it step by step. Phase one was when we put 28 days. The border drill has no definitive end, but what we believe we want is that we want to establish relationship with our neighbours and this relationship is mutual.

“And unless we get to that point, where we now sit down and agree on the way we can complement one another, the way we can adhere to the protocols of movement of goods and persons, we would not have achieved.

“So, we will keep this drill going on until we get to the point where we now sit down and agree on the basic things that will mutually benefit us and mutually enhance our coexistence and ensure that the protocols established by ECOWAS, not by Nigeria, are adhered to strictly,” the Customs DG said.

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