Nigeria and Benin working for quick resolution to border issue

FILE PHOTO: Benin President Patrice Talon (L) and his Nigerian counterpart Muhammadu Buhari (R) speak during a meeting on the sidelines of the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) summit in Japan. COURTESY: TWITTER/Bashir Ahmad

Nigeria sought to reassure Ghana that it wants to quickly resolve issues affecting the ease of trade between them following Nigeria’s closure of its border with Benin.

In August, Nigeria partially closed its border with Benin in a bid to curb massive smuggling activities, especially of rice, occurring in that area.

The effects of the blockade have been felt as far as Ghana with manufacturers complaining about the impact on costs. Factories and traders have struggled to import key raw materials and had to use alternative routes for their exports.

Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama met his Ghanaian counterpart Shirley Botchwey and Ghana’s Trade minister Alan Kyerematen and discussed the issue which has caused a ripple effect across West Africa.

“No country is targeted, we are within ECOWAS, we respect the ECOWAS rules, free movement of persons and goods and that should continue; we’re targeting criminal activities and not countries,” Onyeama said.

Onyeama denied that addressing a particular country’s issue, another would be a disadvantage to another nation.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari had previously indicated that the closure was restricted to allow security personnel to contain the situation and he would consider fully re-opening the border in the future.

Benin is a key transit route for traders and operates a system that allows landlocked neighboring countries to use its harbors for imports.

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