BY: Victoria Ojeme
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and his Agriculture and Rural Development counterpart, Audu Ogbeh, yesterday, met over cross border issues.
The joint ministerial meeting was held in preparation for the forthcoming tripartite anti-smuggling committee meeting comprising Nigeria, Benin, and the Republic of Niger.
Also at the meeting were the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Mohammed Babandede and the Comptroller-General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali.
Speaking after the meeting, Onyeama said President Muhammadu Muhammadu Buhari set up a committee comprising the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Justice, Finance, Interior, including the Nigeria Immigration Service and the Nigeria Customs Service to ask the governments of Niger and Benin to set up also, similar committees in the two countries and also to meet.
“So, we are planning to have a meeting of those committees in a very near future. This was a preparatory meeting amongst ourselves to go through again, all the issues and to 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.
Onyeama added that the current efforts aimed at tackling smuggling in the borders of the affected countries will yield results.
“I think the political will is really there now to finally and definitively address this issue,” Onyeama stated.
Earlier, 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 affect 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,” Ogbeh said.
Ogbeh further said 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,” Ogbeh added.