Nigeria, the Republic of Benin and Niger have agreed to establish a joint border police to check the influx of foreign goods into West Africa’s largest market.
The three countries said in a joint communique in Abuja on Thursday evening that the joint patrol team will comprise “the police, customs, immigration, navy and state security services of the three countries.”
The patrol is expected to hold its first meeting in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, on November 25.
Nigeria closed its land borders to both Benin and Niger in a move the Nigerian government said was aimed curbing smuggling of goods, especially rice, into Nigeria, and illegal export of petroleum products out of the country.
Nigeria also ban supply of petrol to filling stations within 20 kilometre radius of its borders to stiffle smuggling.
The border closure is hurting the economies of Nigeria’s neighbours, which serves as transit countries for some of the goods meant for the Nigerian market.
Nigeria said the borders will remain closed until the end of January.
The policy earned President Muhammadu Buhari more than a few criticisms. But beneficiaries of the move said it was a step in the right direction.
The governor of Nigeria’s central bank said the policy has helped rice farmers and has upped job creation, albeit marginally.
“So, the benefit of the border closure is that it has helped to create jobs for our people, it has helped to bring the integrated rice milling that we have in the country back into business again and they are making money now,” Central Bank of Nigeria’s governor Godwin Emefiele said in October.