The Comptroller of Nigeria Customs Service, Col Hameed Ali, on Thursday dismissed a claim that the border closure across the country was targeted at businessmen and women from Igbo extraction.
Ali, who spoke during a meeting with stakeholders, including businessmen and women, in Aba, Abia State, explained that national security and improvement in the country’s economy were the reasons behind the closure of the nation’s borders.
Maintaining that the policy was not a punitive measure against Igbo importers, the customs boss, who was represented at the event by the Public Relations Officer of NCS, Joseph Attah, urged members of the public to disregard such speculation.
“This question of targeting Igbo importers over the border closure has come repeatedly. When you go to the North, the people there will ask you; are you sure that the intensity with which you carry out this here is what you do in the South-West?
“When you go to the South-West, they will ask you if what you are doing there is what you are doing in the South-East. And here, we are in the South-East; we are getting the same question.
“Let us face the facts; what is being done is about national security and economy. Over a period of time, trans-border crimes and criminalities have affected our safety on our roads, our homes and have affected our ability to yield dividends from our investments,” Ali added.
Also on Thursday, the NSC said it had impounded a number of prohibited items worth over N2bn and arrested 239 illegal immigrants since August 20, 2019.
The spokesman for the Federal Government Strategic Communication Team, Joseph Attah, disclosed this at a forum in Owerri attended by the representatives of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, the National Orientation Agency as well as fish and poultry farmers.
Attah, who listed the items seized to include 4,321 bags of 50kilogrammes of par boiled foreign rice, 8,982 jerry cans of petrol, 399 vehicles, life cartridges and hard drugs, explained that the borders were closed because of the abuse of ECOWAS protocols by some neighbouring Africans.
He said the closure of the borders would continue until such errant nations began to abide by the ECOWAS protocols.