–Foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama
Following agitations and appeals heighten for the reopening of the country’s land borders, the Nigerian government on Monday highlights conditions that must — first of all — be met by ECOWAS member states.
Foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, released the conditions at the meeting of inter ministerial committee which focuses on the temporary partial closure of land borders held in Abuja.
He said that the conditions were spelt out by the country’s inter-ministerial committee to protect the nation’s economy.
Some of the conditions are:
1. Any import coming from outside an ECOWAS region and imported into an ECOWAS member state must maintain its original packaging.
2. They must be escorted from the port directly to the designated entry point in the Nigerian border, presented to the Nigerian customs with their original packaging. Compromises will not be tolerated.
3. Goods produced predominantly in ECOWAS member states must satisfy the ECOWAS rules of origin to avoid any possibility of downplay.
4. Goods must be majorly produced in ECOWAS countries.
5. If the goods are coming from outside ECOWAS, the value addition must be over 30 per cent for it to be accepted within the framework of the Economic Trade Liberalisation Scheme that ECOWAS countries have to promote trade among them.
6. All warehouses along the shared borders of Nigeria must be dismantled.
7. Goods being transported must be put in proper recognized packaging. No longer will we have goods of all shapes and sizes going through the borders. To maintain the best practices of those goods, an accepted condition for packaging will be established.
8. In regards to free movements of persons, all persons moving through Nigerian borders must present themselves through recognized entry points and must have recognized travel documents (country passport).
According to Onyeama there should be a tripartite meeting with countries sharing its land borders to be convened within the next two weeks to address the conditions.
Onyeama said the meeting was under the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari regarding the border closure, stating that it was the desire of President that the issues be addressed as quickly as possible.
“Within the next two weeks, a tripartite committee is to be convened and hosted here in Nigeria comprising a delegation, a committee of Benin Republic, from Niger, and from Nigeria,” he said.
“Each country will come with the heads of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Finance, the Customs, Immigration and NIA, the security segment.’’
On the free movement of persons, Onyeama added that the federal government will now absolutely insist that all persons coming into the country through land borders, must present themselves at recognised entry points.
Onyeama said anyone transiting through the land borders must have and present recognised travel documents which is an officially recognised passport.
He commended the governments of Niger and Benin for the laws they put in place in their countries to stop the re-exporting of rice into Nigeria.
The federal government had closed land borders in August. On Sunday, customs announced that the closure had been extended till January 31.