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Reopen borders, Falana urges FG

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Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer, has advised the federal government to reopen the borders, stating that the closure cannot be sustained for too long without serious repercussions for the Nigerian economy.

Falana, who stated this delivering a paper at the annual conference of the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Accra, Ghana, urged the Nigerian government to urgently dialogue with the neighbouring countries to jointly fight the menace of smuggling, which necessitated the closure of Nigeria’s borders.

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According to him, the border closure was inconsistent with the letter and spirit of ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons, residence and establishment and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. He described the International Monetary Fund’s support for the development as a deliberate design to weaken ECOWAS regional integration agenda. He said: “The borders should be reopened without any further delay as it cannot be sustained for too long without serious repercussions for the Nigerian economy.

“The neighbouring countries may retaliate by imposing a ban on goods being exported from Nigeria by air. They may also close down Nigerian banks and other businesses operating in other member states of the ECOWAS. “Instead of resorting to the unilateral closure of borders the federal government should drag the Republics of Benin and Niger to the Court of Justice of the ECOWAS for breaching the ECOWAS Protocol by allegedly encouraging the smuggling of petrol, rice and other products. In the alternative, smuggling should be addressed like terrorism, which is being jointly combated by Nigeria and her neighbours. He, however, accused the federal government of punishing law-abiding corporate bodies and citizens because of the “criminal activities of a few trans-border smugglers.

“The federal government should expose the smugglers by arresting and prosecuting them.

The smugglers in Nigeria and the neighbouring countries are well known by the security agencies. Without official connivance the crime of smuggling cannot thrive in the region,” he said.


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