Nigeria, Niger and Benin agree to tackle smuggling after border closure

Nigeria, Niger and Benin on Thursday agreed to set up a monitoring and patrol bodies to tackle smuggling, after months of border closure and dispute between the West African countries.
A picture taken in Maradi, near Niger’s southern frontier on October 19, 2019 shows trucks parked after the Nigeria closed its border with Niger on August 20, 2019 to defend against smuggling. – The closure of the border by Nigeria has put trade at a stalemate since August 20, AFP reports. (Photo by BOUREIMA HAMA / AFP)

Nigeria, Niger and Benin on Thursday agreed to set up a monitoring and patrol bodies to tackle smuggling, after months of border closure and dispute between the West African countries.

In a meeting in the Nigerian capital, Abuja representatives of the joint anti-smuggling committee, including the foreign ministers of the three countries, and the Trade Commissioner of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed to establish “monitoring and evaluation committee… to enhance the suppression of smuggled goods”.

The ministers agreed that a joint border patrol team comprising naval, customs, immigration and security officials from the three countries would meet later in the month “to recommend a date for the opening of the borders,” a statement released after the meeting said. 

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In August Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy shut its land borders with Niger and Benin, to curb the smuggling of large quantities of rice and other commodities.

The joint statement is Nigeria’s first sign of appeasement towards its neighbors, three months after Africa’s largest economy shut close its land borders with the two border countries to ban the import and export of rice, oil and other commodities. 

The decision drew the ire of its neighbors, particularly Benin, which shares an economically vital land border with Nigeria, and where many citizens thrive from exporting to Africa’s largest market of 190 million people. 

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The border has become a port of entry for tonnes of rice into Nigeria, which it has banned to boost local production. 

Nigeria has also accused Benin of benefiting from the illegal importation of subsidized oil, costing the government billions of dollars. 


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