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President Buhari opens four land borders

Benjamin Ukpabi

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President Buhari opens four land borders

The Nigerian president has opened the land border at Seme, Illela, Maigatari, and Mfun.

The land borders were closed to goods in August 2019, with partial openings and closings for people prompted by the coronavirus pandemic throughout 2020.

In a recent meeting with the ruling APC party chieftans, President Buhari had promised the border would be opened ‘as soon as possible’. Presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu said that the ‘message had sunk in’ to neighbouring countries used as a base for smuggling into Nigeria.

That message was largely intended for Benin.

 

“A number of Nigerian business leaders have been complaining about Cotonou’s attitude. They claim their trucks going to Benin are overtaxed at the border,” says a Beninese businessman with links in Nigeria. “In addition, businessman Aliko Dangote, who bought the Nigerian government’s shares in the Lafarge group, wants to sell his cement in Benin, which Talon is prohibiting.”

No surprise then that Dangote emerged as a mediator between Buhari and Benin president Patrice Talon.

In September, Dangote flew Talon and the Benin finance minister Romuald Wadagni to Abuja for talks about re-opening the border.

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Nigeria closed its border against its neighbours almost immediately after it signed the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCTA).

President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the closures of Nigeria’s borders to prevent smuggling of rice and other products, in attempts to ensure food self-sufficiency back in August 2019. Since then food prices have soared, reaching an all time high of 18.3%, while inflation in the country of the more than 200 million people rose to a three-year high of 14.9%, according to data from the country’s data agency, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

“Food inflation is a good example of the outcome of the border closure, considering that 2020 saw 22 states in the country experience flooding, especially the food producing areas”, says Samuel Segun, analyst at SMB Intelligence. He also notes the growing insecurity that has led to attacks on farmers. “So, the government choosing to ban the importation of food items under the guise of border closure hasn’t translated into higher production of food by farmers,”  said.

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While analysts say they do not see the government having “the imagination to take its hands off protectionism completely,” given that the “economic policies we are seeing aren’t so different from what was obtainable in the 80s under Buhari’s previous term,” according to Segun, they do see the government easing control on trade with its neighbours in the coming year, partly because its protectionism stance on trade in the past 16 months has failed, and partly because the government just recently ratified the AfCTA it reluctantly signed on July 7, 2020.

Nigeria ratified Africa’s historic free trade agreement will now come into effect on January 1 2021, last month, paving way for a potential re-opening of its borders. The ratification has been hailed as helping to inch the continent of more than a billion people towards becoming the world’s largest free trade area since the World Trade Organization.

There were several forces nudging Nigeria in this direction, and shaping international trade dynamics of Africa’s biggest economy in 2021, according to Ebehi Iyoha, at the Economics Department at Vanderbilt University.

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In Iyoha’s estimation, the emergence of Nigeria’s finance minister Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the potential director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) poses a critical question: “how can a country be hostile to imports if its own citizen heads the largest global organisation committed to free trade?”

While Nigeria’s role in Okonjo-Iweala’s bid for WTO directorship is “quite negligible,” according to SBM’s Segun, still, “Nigeria’s nominee landing the position would invite greater scrutiny of the government’s trade policies,” Iyoha said. “What this will mean in practical terms for businesses in the country will depend on whether the Buhari administration cares enough about the country’s reputation to change course,” she added.

Analysts see the opening as helping Nigeria consolidate economic growth on the projection that reopening the borders will reverse the decline of the trade sector, one of the largest employers of labour in the country.

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Police Officer arrested with gang member during robbery operation

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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Elekahia Police Division on sunday arrested a police sergeant Ibrahim Odege, and one other person involved in armed robbery at Elekahia Housing Estate.

State Police Command Public Relations Officer, Nmadi Omoni, disclosed this in a press statement. He said the two suspects were robbing people and falsefully taking their valuables from them.

Omoni said that the police early arrival to the scene led to the arrest of the two armed robbers, the police division identified one of the suspect Sergeant Ibrahim Odege attached to the Operations Department of the Rivers Police Command and one Sampson Inomoghe from Nembe in Bayelsa State, but resides at Rumuokwrushi in Obio/Akpor LGA.

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He said that the suspects took responsibilities for most of the robberies carried out in that axis. Omoni added that the state commissioner of police, Joseph G. Mukan, strongly condemned the act and ordered the immediate transfer of of the suspects and exhibits to the state Criminal Investigation Department for Investigation.

He appealed to the residents of the area to remain calm and be vigilant, also to work with the police to keep their area safe.

 

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Mercedes Benz With ‘Learner’ Sign Set Ablaze After Crushing 6 Children to Death in Edo

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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Mercedes Benz With ‘Learner’ Sign Set Ablaze After Crushing 6 Children to Death in Edo State. The incident happened in Arue-Uromi, Esan-North East Local Government Area of the state.

According to Eye witnesses, the six children crushed by the Mercedes  were siblings, four girls and two boys, the driver (a learner) was trying to dodge a pothole and swerved to the spot where the kids were playing football.

This incident provoked the residents of the community,  they immediately blocked the road and set the Mercedes Benz ablaze.

This incident was confirmed by the Edo State Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Henry Benamaisia.

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I Didn’t Bribe Malami With $5m -Akpabio

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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Senator Godswill Akpabio(Minister of Niger Delta Affairs), has denied the news making the rounds that he offered a bribe of $5 million to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to earn his appointment as a sole administrator for the  Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Akpabio said this on Sunday through his media aide Anietie Ekong. he insisted that he would take legal action against frontliners of the news to clear his name and that of AGF.

Ekong said “the attention of the minister of Niger Delta Affairs has been drawn to a piece of fake news, which claimed that Senator Akpabio paid $5 million bribe to Malami and others to secure the appointment of a Sole Administrator for NDDC.

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“We wish to state categorically that this is a piece of malicious concoction manufactured from the pit of hell by mischief-makers. It is a figment of the imagination of the author of the fake news. Akpabio denies the story in its entirety. The authors of the fake news should be ready to back up their claim or face the full wrath of the law.

“The story is a desperate attempt by some unscrupulous bloggers to impugn the integrity of Akpabio and Malami as the claim is not only spurious but utterly ridiculous.

“The fact is that in a suit number ABJ/CS/617/2020 filed by a Civil Society Organization, Forum for Accountability and Good Governance, at a Federal High Court in Abuja, Justice Ahmed Mohammed had granted an order restraining the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC from performing the functions of the board and accessing the commission’s offices and files.”

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