Border closure has not violated free trade treaty – Aondoakaa
Former Minister of Justice, Mr Mike Aondoakaa
Former Minister of Justice, Mr Mike Aondoakaa says Nigeria has not violated any treaty regarding free trade among the West African States by closing its borders.
Aondoakaa also President, West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA) stated this while speaking with newsmen on Thursday in Makurdi.
“The country is only taking measures to sanitise a filthy development that is almost grounding the local economy with agricultural produce wasting on daily basis. Nigeria is the only country in West Africa that eats parboiled rice”.
“So, our neighbours often take advantage of this and under the pretext of free trade among West African countries to use their countries as smuggling routes to bring in some products that one cannot even verify their source”.
“Even when the products are to be examined following the branding to trace the root, the supposed producers will distance themselves from these same products brought into our country with their labels and insignia”.
“The worse aspects of it is that, these supposed importers mischievously using Nigeria as dumping site for questionable products do not even pay custom duties. If this is not worrisome to anyone, then, it is very unfortunate,” he said.
Aondoakaa urged the Federal Government to sustain the closure due to its numerous economic advantages to the country.
“I pray that President Muhammadu Buhari will insist that the borders remained closed until there is convincing commitment from the offending neighbours that they are ready to consistently and meticulously check products that pass through their territories into Nigeria,” he said.
He stated that the development would serve a bitter lesson to neighbouring countries that had over the years taken the country for a ride by consistently allowing their territories to be used as transit routes for smugglers to dump unverified products into the country.
He further revealed that government took the measure based on pressures from farmers who kept lamenting and appealing that they needed to get benefit for their produce.
“I threw my weight behind the border closure because it is the best way to go for Nigeria,” he said.