By Modupe Gbadeyanka
No fewer than five importers have lost their lives as a result of debts incurred following the decision of the Nigerian government to shut down its land borders.
In August 2019, Nigerian authorities abruptly closed the country’s borders, preventing both importation and exportation of goods through land, but left the sea and air opened to importers bring their products into the country.
It was explained that this move was taken to tackle smuggling of goods, especially rice, from neighbouring countries into Nigeria. The borders were closed to also address the security challenges facing the Africa’s largest economy.
In a report by Sweet Crude Reports, former border coordinator of the National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Mr Gordon Ogbonanya, was quoted as saying five importers known to him have died as a result of this action.
He explained that the importers died because they could not bring their goods into the country to enable them sell and return the money they got from their banks.
“I know of five importers that have died a result of this border closure. Their good were trapped in Cotonou Port and interests were accruing on the loans they took from the banks to finance their imports,” he said.
Mr Ogonanya urged Nigerian government to look into the border closure matter with a view to finding a lasting solution to it because more importers are likely to die if nothing was done urgently.
According to him, the inability of importers to bring their cargoes to Nigeria from Benin Republic to sell and pay back their loans was becoming a serious issue.
He said those who initially thought the closure would be for a short period had their hopes dashed last week when the Nigeria Customs Service said the first phase of the shutdown would remain till January 31, 2020.
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