The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, says the Federal Government has stepped up measures to address challenges of smuggling and insecurity at the nation’s borders.
Onyeama said this on Monday, in Abuja, after a joint ministerial meeting with his Agriculture and Rural Development counterpart, Audu Ogbeh, over cross border issues.
The joint ministerial meeting was held in preparation for the forthcoming tripartite anti-smuggling committee meeting comprising Nigeria, Benin, and Niger Republic.
Also at the meeting were the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Mohammed Babandede, and the Comptroller-General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali.
The minister expressed the current administration’s determination to holistically address the issues by working with neighbouring countries.
Onyeama said that the current efforts aimed at tackling smuggling in the borders of the affected countries would yield results.
“I think the political will is really there now to finally and definitively address this issue,” Onyeama stated.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari has set up a committee comprising the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Justice, Finance and Interior; as well as the Nigeria Immigration Service and the Nigeria Customs Service over the issue.
“He has also asked the governments of Niger and Benin to set up similar committees in the two countries and to also meet.
“So, we are planning to have a meeting of those committees in the very near future.
“This is a preparatory meeting between us to revisit all the issues, come up with a common position and present that to Mr President so that we can have a basis for engaging with those other countries,’’ Onyeama said.
On his part, Ogbeh said the meeting, under the chairmanship of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, discussed issues on the nation’s borders, particularly on security and how they affected local economic activities.
“Mr President has asked us to send in some recommendations. I think we are done.
“We are recommending that we deploy all the diplomatic channels according to the agreements we had before to reach a situation where we can bring to an end, issues which are not in line with our policy and our survival,” he said.
He said that the perennial insecurity in the country, weapons coming into the country and smuggling, necessitated the meeting.
“We just want to take steps to make sure that we increase security and make Nigerians happier,’’ Onyeama said.