The Nigeria Customs Service on Wednesday gave more details on the closure of Nigeria borders.
This is as Customs officers held a meeting with rice farmers in Kaduna State on the importance of the closure of Nigeria’s borders to national food security.
The Customs Public Relation Officer, Joseph Atta, said that the interaction was meant to derive support for the operation, which was principally to protect local farmers.
He told the farmers that the Federal Government was compelled to take the action after neighbouring countries failed to respect an agreement to block smuggling of goods into Nigeria, NAN reports.
Atta recalled that Nigeria even bought patrol vehicles to support its neighbours in protecting their end of the border, but nothing much was done to stop the smugglers.
He said that the border closure was not only necessary in ensuring national food security, but also the security of lives and properties of Nigerians.
“The issues of light weapons, kidnapping and banditry, make Nigeria less secure and are affecting the nation’s economy especially the Agric sector,” he noted.
He said the government have the mindset to promote agriculture and stopping dependence on smuggling by taking delibrate steps, while wishing the investments to translate into appropriate growth.
The NSC spokesman however said that in spite of the genuine desire of government, neighbouring countries with coniviance of some unpatrotic Nigerians, have continued to allow foreign items to be smuggled into the country, thereby causing massive losses to local farmers.
He stressed that the continuous patronage of smuggled rice only lead to loss for local farmers and reduction in job growth.
“When drugs are allowed into the country it lead to lots of challenges; smugglers are taking advantage of the border to create havoc.
“We have a decisive government taking decisions to ensure that the nation security is secured,
“All the security agencies are now working together in unity to ensure that the country’s borders are secured,” he said.
Atta said, “Our country cannot continue to take decisions that will continue to empower other people while our country suffers.”
According to him, border closure and surveillance have led to the arrest of 146 illegal immigrants, seizure of 18,759 bags of 50kg foreign rice, 131 bags of MPK fertilizer, catriges.
Others include, 4765 jericans of vegetable oil and bales of used clothings and shoes, as well as two trucks filled with petroleum products.
In his comments, the state Secretary of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Mr Ishaya Audu expressed their total support for the government action and advised Nigerians to always patronize local foods for healthier growth.
He appreciated the federal government for providing many opportunities for Nigerians especially in the area of agriculture, particularly rice production.
“It has created alot of jobs for the youth, and graduate are also into farming due to federal support, ” the RIFAN secretary said.
Mr Mohammed Kabir, a farmer, expressed optimism that things will get better for the country if the federal government continues in the same direction.
On his part, Mr Toyin Ahmed, the representative of Kaduna Inland Dry Port advised farmers to visit the port for guidance on import and export processes.
The State Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA) , Zubairu Galadima-Suba described the partial border closure as necessary to the efforts of boosting food security particularly, rice in the country.
He said the policy would eliminate the importation of toxic rice and encourage Nigerians to consume local rice which is good for their health.
Galadima-Soba explained that the objective of the policy was principally to empower indigenous farmers, and urged the public to support it.