Since August 20, 2019, Nigeria has closed its borders with some of its neighbouring West African countries.
Borders in four geopolitical zones across the country, including South-South, South-West, North-Central and North-West have been closed.
The government took the decision in an attempt to stop what it calls smuggling activities at it’s borders.
Rice is one of the commodities mostly smuggled on a massive scale into Nigeria through borders linking with Benin.
President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari has said that the smuggling was a setback for his country’s agricultural policies pushing for self-sufficiency in food production.
Benin and other countries close to Nigeria have expressed concern about the closure.
Other ECOWAS member countries have also escalated the concern by expressing their dislike for the move.
Some of these countries including Niger have now banned the export of Rice to Nigeria, hoping to ease tension.
Traders in Ghana have accused Nigeria of unfair trade practices, and called on the ECOWAS Commission to intervene.
In a statement the traders association claimed goods destined for the Nigerian market are stranded at the Benin boarder to Nigeria, causing financial loss to exporters.
One of their leaders, Clement Boateng is quoted by 3FM as saying that “If Nigeria has the audacity to say that they will not allow any country to bring in their goods because they want to protect their market, I think it is unfair.”
“Nigeria thinks they are the giants in the West Africa and for that matter they want to dictate the pace of ECOWAS. We think this is wrong and it is about time the ECOWAS commission stood up and say something. About it,” Boateng said.
Meanwhile Senior Nigerian Customs Service official Hameed Ali, told journalists in Abuja on Monday that “The government, through diplomatic channels will continue to engage our neighbours to agree to comply with ECOWAS Protocol on Transit.
“Goods that are on the prohibition list in Nigeria, such as rice, used clothes, poultry products and vegetable oil should not be exported to the country.
“As a result of this [border] closure, Niger Republic has already circulated an order banning exportation of rice in any form to Nigeria.”
It is not clear when the borders will be re-opened for free flow of goods and people.