Border Closure: Benin Republic Unrepentant – Lai Mohammed

Former Minister, Lai Mohammed
Information Minister, Lai Mohammed

The Republic of Benin has been accused unrepentant about importing prohibited goods for ultimate dumping into Nigeria’s market in spite of the partial border closure order.

The accusation was made by Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture when he appeared on a live programme on TV Continental.

“Regrettably, the signs out there are not positive in the sense that in the last few weeks, the number of seizures that have been made does not show that our neighbours are in a hurry to comply with Nigeria,” NAN quoted him to have said.

“As we speak today, there are three ships heading toward the Benin Republic laden with about 105,000 metric tons of rice.

“This is a country of about 12 million people. That rice is meant for ultimate consumption of Nigerians.

“In addition, Benin Republic just negotiated with Japan to receive rice worth 30 million dollars.

“It is clear that the ultimate destination of the rice will be Nigeria and that is why we are appealing to our neighbours.”

“The facts at our disposal reveal that 10,000 vehicles are imported every month into the Cotonou seaport,” he explained.

“For a population of about 12 million people to be importing 120,000 vehicles in a year means that the vehicles are going to Nigeria with sufficient market.

“As I have said, there is no gain without pain, there will be discomfort at the beginning ultimately we believe it is going to be to the ultimate interest of Nigeria,” he said.

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“We have been on this dialogue since 2015 and the truth of the matter is that there has never been any legitimate transit trade between us and the two countries.”

“This is hurting our economy, affecting our security and no country will fold its arms when the overall interest of its people is being jeopardised.”

Mohammed, however, notes that the government was very aware of the toil border closure is having on its citizens especially when it comes to the price of rice, but stressed that Nigerians must bear the temporary pains to reap the benefits.