President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigeria’s borders were closed because of the smuggling of arms and hard drugs into the country.
Speaking with Nana Akufo-Addo, his Ghanaian counterpart, at a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, Buhari said the borders were not shut because of food smuggling alone.
He said he could not keep his eyes open, and watch youth being destroyed through cheap hard drugs, and compromised security caused by unbridled influx of small arms.
“When most of the vehicles carrying rice and other food products through our land borders are intercepted, you find cheap hard drugs, and small arms, under the food products. This has terrible consequences for any country,” Buhari said.
The president said it was regrettable that the partial border closure was having “negative economic impact on our neighbours,” but added that “we cannot leave our country, particularly the youths, endangered.”
Buhari added that the Sahel region was awash with small arms, which accounts for severe security challenges in Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.
“We are in fact the biggest victims,” he said.
On time frame for reopening the borders, Buhari said it would not happen till the final report of a committee set up on the matter was submitted and considered.
“We will get things sorted out. Our farmers, especially those who grow rice, now have a market and are happy, and we are also concerned about hard drugs and weapons,” he said.
“Once the committee comes up with its recommendations, we will sit and consider them.”
Responding, the Ghanaian president pleaded for “an expedited process, because the Nigerian market is significant for certain categories of business people in Ghana.”