By John Ofikhenua and Agim Joshua’ Abuja
The Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service, retried Col. Hameed Ali has insisted that all import and export of goods from the nation’s land borders remain banned until there is an agreement with neighbouring countries on the kind of goods that should enter and exit Nigeria.
According to him, the measure is for the security agencies to be able to scan the goods entering the country.
He maintained all goods must only enter through the legitimate air and sea ports where they can undergo thorough scanning and certified fit for consumption.
According to him: “We hope that by the time we get to the end of this exercise, we would have exactly between we and our neighbors agree on the type of goods that should enter and exit our country.
“For now, all goods, whether illicit or non-illicit, are banned from going and coming into Nigeria.
“Let me add that for the avoidance of doubt that we included all goods because all goods can equally come through our seaports.
“For that reason, we have deemed it necessary for now that importers of such goods should go through our controlled boarders where we have scanners to verify the kind of goods and how healthy to our people can be conducted.”
The Customs boss broke the news in Abuja during a joint press briefing on joint boarder patrol that is codenamed ‘EX-SWIFT RESPONSE.”
The Ex-SWIFT RESPONSE is coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) comprising the Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies to address trans-boarder security issues.
He insisted that despite the rights for movement of persons the enabling ECOWAS protocols, there must be primacy of security over such rights.
Ali, who was asked whether the Federal Government had not breached the rights of the citizenry to movement and international trade, said that “when it comes to security, all laws take back a seat.
“We want to our nation, we want make sure that our people are protected. You must be alive and well for you to begin to ask for your rights. Your rights come when you are well and alive.
“Go and the people in Maiduguri when Boko Haram was harassing their lives, the only question was survival, there is no question of right. This time Nigeria must survive first then before we begin to ask for our rights.”