Officials of the Nigerian Immigration Service have intercepted seven Cameroonians along Ikot Obong Creek in Akpabuyo local government area of Cross River State.
This was disclosed in a statement signed on Friday by the Public Relations Officer, for Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, DCI James Sunday.
According to the statement, the Cameroonians were caught while attempting to enter the country in a boat.
Consequently, they were denied entry and returned back to their country through Ikang Control post, while the boat that brought them was impounded.
The arrest is among series of interceptions between Cross River and Akwa Ibom state commands respectively, bothering Cameroon in recent times amidst the Federal Government’s directive on border closure.
The Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service Muhammad Babandede (MFR) has further directed commands at the border to intensify patrol and reconnaissance along the flanks, creeks, waterways, and inroads into the country in order to frustrate the attempts of the irregular migrants.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that food prices have forced Nigeria’s inflation for the month of January 2020 to hit 12.13 percent, recording five months of consecutive increase.
The increase is 0.15 percent points higher than the rate recorded in December 2019 (11.98 percent).
The report from NBS released on Tuesday stated that the composite food index rose by 14.85 percent in January 2020 compared to 14.67 percent in December 2019, and
It revealed that the rise in the food index was caused by increases in prices of Bread and Cereals, Meat, Oils and fats, Potatoes, yam and other tubers and Fish.
“In January 2020, food inflation on a year on year basis was highest in Sokoto (19.08%), Ogun (18.72%) and Nasarawa (17.07%), while Bayelsa (12.91%), Delta (11.57%) and Benue (11.33%) recorded the slowest rise.”
On a month on month basis, food inflation was highest in Ondo (2.95%), Anambra (2.61%) and Abuja (2.57%), while Benue, Kogi and River recorded price deflation.
Meanwhile, urban inflation rate increased by 12.78 percent in January 2020, while the rural inflation rate increased by 11.54 percent in the same month in review.
The country’s inflation rate had dropped from 11.40% in May 2019 to 11.02% recorded in August, but the recent rise in inflation started in September with 11.24%.
The Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, expressed his displeasure at the inflationary pressure but was quick to assure that the trend will witness an immediate turnaround.
In October 2019, it rose to 11.61% which experts believe the rise in inflation rate may be connected to the ongoing border closure which had made it difficult for products to be exported and imported into the country through the land borders.
But NBS noted in its inflation report that the border closure had not started to reflect on the economy as the border was only closed on 20th August 2019
The month of November was no different as it witnessed a third consecutive rise to 11.85 Percent even as the effects of the border closure bit harder on consumer goods.
Again in December, inflation increased by 11.98, higher than the 11.85 percent recorded in November, with composite food index rising by 14.67 percent.
The Nigeria Customs Service in Katsina state has arrested two persons with 42.9 million CFA in their possession, an equivalent to N26.5 million.
According to the Sector Coordinator, Comptroller Aliyu Mohammed in a press briefing said that the suspects were arrested by officers of the Sector 4 command of the National Border Drill operation while trying to illegally cross the Kamba border axis of Sokoto state.
“One was arrested trying to cross the border illegally; he doesn’t have a valid document and was in possession of 32 million CFA, while his second was in possession of 9 million CFA.
“If you have currency while going out of the country there is a regulation; you must have a valid document for going out; secondly, you must declare your currency to customs, not more than $10,000 or equivalent.
He added that “They are crossing without documents and with a large amount of money equivalent to N26.5 million.”
The Customs boss stated that another case is that of three smugglers who offered the sum of N1.5 million cash to the sector as a bribe to bail out their two vehicles loaded with banned second-hand clothes.
“The second issue is someone who tried to smuggle two busses loaded with banned used cloths; he came to meet us for negotiation instead of running away.
“He offered to give us N2.5 million but he brought N1.5 million so we collected the money, arrested him and seized the consignment.”
He said goods of various types with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of over N473 million were also intercepted in Katsina state within two weeks across various illegal routes existing in the state.
Items seized include: 362 bales of textile materials, 377 Jumbo bales of used clothes, 270 cartons of foreign Eva soap, 880 bags of 50kg smuggled rice, three trailers of smuggled scrapped metals.
Others are 60 drums of petroleum product, 96 empty drums, 13 drums of diesel, 22 Jumbo sacks of 100Kg snuff and 178 Jerry cans of petroleum product.
Mohammed stressed that the current border closure drill has recorded tremendous success, stating that the crime rate and influx of drugs have reduced.
“The border closure drill has recorded tremendous success; the rate of crime and smuggling of drugs have gone down seriously.
“Sometimes when we work, we are saving residence because if we allow drugs into the state, Nigerian Indian hemp isn’t effective so they are smoking Indian hemp from Ghana because it doesn’t smell and it’s very powerful; if we allow that to enter Katsina, I don’t know what will happen,” he added.
The Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government has constituted a committee to study and make a full report on the Nigerian government’s land border closure with neighbouring countries.
A statement from the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the committee is headed by President Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso.
Shehu explained that the decision to set up the committee was agreed on Sunday night in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at an extraordinary session of ECOWAS leaders convened on the margins of the 33rd AU Summit to discuss the issue and other pressing regional matters.
According to him, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who travelled to Ethiopia with President Muhammadu Buhari and other, briefed reporters after the three-hour closed-door session.
“The President of Burkina Faso is charged with undertaking a full study of the situation, make a report and then we take it from there,” Onyeama was quoted as saying in the statement.
Asked when the report would be presented to ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, he replied, “As soon as possible.
“There are no timelines; but he (Kabore) is supposed to start very quickly, study the situation from all the affected countries and present his report.”
The minister revealed that the meeting also discussed West Africa′s new single currency – the Eco – and the situation in Guinea Bissau after the presidential election.
He affirmed that nothing has changed in respect of Nigeria’s position on the Eco currency.
Onyeama explained that Nigeria’s position was that the convergence criteria have not been met by the majority of the countries, stressing that there has to be an extension of time on the take-off of the single currency.
On Guinea Bissau, the Minister said ECOWAS leaders recognised that there was an appeal of the presidential election result and they were waiting for the Supreme Court decision on the matter.
President Buhari and other leaders in the region attended the meeting chaired by the ECOWAS Chairman, President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic.
President Muhammadu Buhari has continued to defend the closure of the nation’s borders.
According to him, the partial closure of the borders was not caused solely because food products, particularly rice, were being smuggled into Nigeria, but also because arms and ammunition, as well as hard drugs were being ferried into the country.
The president said this on Monday at a bilateral meeting in London, on the sidelines of the UK-Africa Investment Summit 2020 with President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana.
He said he could not keep his eyes open, and watch youths 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,” President Buhari said.
He 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.”
Speaking further, the President said 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 lamented.
On the time frame for reopening the borders, President 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. Once the committee comes up with its recommendations, we will sit and consider them,” the President said.
President Akufo-Addo, while showing understanding of the need for Nigeria to protect her citizens, pleaded for “an expedited process, because the Nigerian market is significant for certain categories of business people in Ghana.”
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the partial closure of Nigeria’s borders is not meant to punish her neighbours, but to strengthen the country’s security and economy.
In a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, President Buhari told a select group of the Nigerian Community in the United Kingdom that the period of closure will be used for stock-taking on threats to the nation’s security and economy.
He noted that Nigerian farmers have been celebrating the closure which has drastically reduced the smuggling of agricultural produce as well as arms and ammunition.
President Buhari attributed the country’s virtual food security position to the “very good last three rainy seasons;” the federal government’s reduction in the price of fertilizers by 50 percent and the presidential directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria not to give foreign exchange for food imports thereby saving the nations billions of naira.
Commending Nigerians in the Diaspora for their huge home remittances – more than $25 billion in 2018 – the President also lauded their individual performances in their various fields of expertise.
Explaining the achievements of his administration in implementing its three-point campaign agenda by focusing on fixing the economy, providing security and tackling corruption, the President said Nigeria’s “huge, vibrant youth population” have been encouraged to go back to the farms and are “living decent and respectable lifestyles.”
On security, he said “it is common sense that you can only run the country if it is secured,” adding that the country “has not done badly in the North East.”
Describing the havoc done by corruption to the image and economy of Nigeria as “terrible,” President Buhari said that his administration has now focused on retrieving stolen fixed assets and returning the proceeds of the sale “to the treasury through the Treasury Single Account (TSA),” so that nobody can return them back to the convicts even after his tenure.
The Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila has said the Federal Government’s ban on foreign rice is yielding the desired results.
Speaking in Lagos at his annual End of the Year Grassroots Empowerment Programme on Sunday, the Speaker said the masses are now forced to now consume locally farmed products, especially Nigerian rice following the closure of the nation’s land borders.
“I must say the impact of closing Nigeria’s borders to foreign rice is yielding results. I am sure so many farmers are now smiling to the bank.
“The volume of Christmas rice sales made by Nigerian farmers speaks to the emerging culture of eating what we grow,” a statement issued by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker quoted Gbajabiamila as saying.
The lawmaker also reiterated the commitment of the Ninth Assembly to meet up the aspirations of their constituents.
In doing so, he noted that the legislature would continue to work with the executive arm to bring more developmental projects to them.
He however denied claims by some Nigerians that the current National Assembly is a rubber stamp of the executive arm, stressing that good collaboration between the two arms is always in the best interest of Nigerians.
“People, critics and people of other parties have said the 9th Assembly is a rubber stamp to the Executive. They may have told you that too.
“The fact is that the National Assembly is not a rubber stamp. This is a National Assembly that represents the interests of the people. The people of Surulere did not elect me to fight the Executive but to engage and collaborate with stakeholders to bring dividends of democracy,” he stated.
On the issue of the budget, he explained that the nation has returned back to the January to December budget cycle.
“If we have an industrial policy that is aimed at protecting the productive sector of Nigeria against unfair competition, we cannot allow our neighbours to open their door to this unfair competition and through the backdoor undermine our industry, this is extremely important,” the Emir said.
He added that the decision was meant to stop neighbouring countries from violating the ECOWAS protocol, given that Nigeria was fast becoming a dumping ground.
The border closure, he concluded, will not only address the problem of smuggling petroleum products and rice but also prevent a situation where Nigeria is turned into a dumpsite for dangerous drugs.
The Federal Government has revealed that over 50 percent of filling stations located along the Magama Jibia/Niger border owned by foreigners are set up solely for the purpose of smuggling petroleum products.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed disclosed this after he led a powerful delegation on an assessment tour to inspect the activities of the joint border patrol at sector 4 of the border drill in Katsina state.
Mr Mohammed added that since the closure of the filling station, the smuggling of petroleum products out of Nigeria has greatly been reduced.
“There are hundreds of filling stations along the border; we counted many as we drove to the border this morning. They were set up purposely for smuggling.
“They don’t sell the fuel consignment they receive to the public, 50 percent of them are owned by foreigners.
“Now that they are closed, we have recorded over 30% in domestic fuel consumption,” he maintained.
He explained that the four sectors where the drill is currently ongoing have recorded highest successes in terms of illegal migration, cattle rustling, kidnapping, banditry, and arms smuggling.
“We have recorded over 30 percent increase in revenue since the drill.
“Gentlemen, before the drill, the borders contributed nothing to the revenue, nothing.
“Customs was recording about N4.5 billion daily, but since the closure, the figure has increased to between N5 and N8 billion daily.
“The North-West sector, of the four sectors affected by the drill, has recorded the highest success in terms of reduction of illegal migration, thanks to the drill.”
The minister also added that the exercise is not targeted at any region in the country, neither is it designed to cripple businesses in any part of the country.
He maintained that since the exercise commenced over a few months ago, local businesses across the country have continued to thrive, as farmers and rice millers, in particular, are now having huge turnover.
Mr Mohammed added that Nigeria will continue to engage with neighbouring countries to ensure that all the concerns that led to exercise swift response are fully addressed.
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he plans to curb smuggling activities through Nigeria’s borders in a bid to rekindle the agriculture sector.
President Buhari told a delegation of Katsina State Elders Forum who paid him a visit at his country home in Daura, that the new directive will save the country billions of naira on import bills.
A statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, added that just like the successes recorded from the border drill on rice and petroleum products, the interest of farmers must be protected.
He told the delegation that he intends forging ahead with poverty alleviation schemes and the agricultural and livestock reforms which his administration started during the first term.
”Farmers must be protected. Dishonesty is deep-rooted in the country. Otherwise, the border closer would not have been warranted,” he said.
President Buhari commended the actions taken by the President of Niger Republic, Muhammadou Youssoufou, including the dismissal of officials and a ban on use of the country as a dumping ground for Nigeria-bound smuggled goods, adding that the measures taken by the President of Niger were helpful and supportive.
He acknowledged the hardship of border communities following the ban on sale of fuel at stations 20 kilometres to the border, a restriction that also saw to the closure of all fuel stations in his native home, Daura.
Earlier in his remark, the representative of the Chairman of the Elders Forum, Alhaji Aliyu Saulawa, drew a long list of requests which included a special intervention fund to assist victims of attacks, completion of the 10 megawatts wind power project in the state, setting up of a North-West Development Commission and setting up of Ruga farm settlements, which he said were urgently needed.
President Buhari promised to look at the requests, adding that his constituency is the whole country, and he is determined to be fair to all.