Border closure is illegal, immoral, economically senseless  – Falana warns

Chinazor Megbolu    |     

A foremost legal luminary, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) had hinted that the border closure by the Federal Government of Nigeria could worsen food security in the country.

The Lagos based lawyer  disclosed this in Ekiti, adding  that the closure of the border cannot guarantee food security and economic development in the country.

He noted that government is being misled over the issue of  border closure exercise.

Falana explained it was wrong for President Muhammadu Buhari- led government to close the borders indefinitely without considering the hardship this can cause in the life of the citizenry.

“I don’t support the closure because it is illegal, immoral and economically senseless. It cannot be defended under the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and Goods. Punishing millions of community citizens for the offence of a few smugglers is immoral. Contrary to the claim by the federal government that smuggling has stopped, the criminals involved in the nefarious trade have merely changed tactics”.

“Following incessant trans-border crimes including armed robberies and smuggling of vehicles from Nigeria to Benin Republic in 2003, the Olusegun Obasanjo administration closed the land border between Nigeria and Benin Republic for about a week. Before the border closure, the federal government had investigated and confirmed that one Mr. Ahmadu Tijanni, a highly influential citizen of Niger Republic based in Cotonou was the mastermind of the trans-border criminal activities. Even though he was a sacred cow in Benin Republic, Mr. Tijanni was arrested by a team of the Nigeria Police.

“Tijanni was tried, convicted and jailed for armed robbery by the Ogun State High Court. In view of the fact that the customs service in Benin Republic is hampered from collaborating with its Nigerian counterpart to stop the smuggling of goods from Benin Republic to Nigeria, the federal government ought to have reported President Patrice Talon for using private company to manage its customs affairs. This is the only way to stop smuggling, not border closure alone,” he said.

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