Traditional rulers appeal to Buhari to review border closure

Traditional rulers and residents of border communities in Ogun state have made a joint appeal to President Muhammed Buhari to review the border closure and bring succour to them. They made known at a press conference in Abeokuta. The leaders of the border communities under the aegis of Ogun West Consultative Forum (OWECOF) and residents said the policy “the policy is killing” them.

Six traditional rulers, including the Onihunbo of Ihunbo kingdom, Oba Joseph Adesiyan, renowned historian; Prof. Anthony Asiwaju, and scores of the residents over a dozen of communities said evacuation of farm produce, and poultry products by local farmers have become impossible as overzealous border task force harassed them under the guise that farm produce were smuggled items.

They urged  President Buhari to also rescind his order banning supply of petroleum products within 20 kilometres radius of the border. They lamented that men of Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) have made life more miserable for them under the guise of upholding the presidential ban on petroleum.

OWECOF’s spokesperson and a Professor of African Comparative History and Borderland Studies, Anthony Asiwaju said that the order, prohibiting petroleum supply, 20 kilometres to the border has brought untold economic hardship to the innocent people living in the areas, who have nothing to do with economic sabotage popularly referred to as smuggling. Asiwaju lamented that the presidential order has criminalized the entire law abiding people of Yewa – Aworiland of Ogun West Senatorial district who are principally affected by the policy. He explained that the order is also having an economic hardship on the people of the area as well as its attendant loss of lives.

Noting that it is inappropriate to “use a unit to judge the whole,”, OWECOF declared that federal government’s reasons advanced for closing the borders and also restricting petroleum movement by 20 kilometers to the border were serious indictment on the ability of the NCS officials at effectively policing the Nigerian borders and as such, should not be blamed on residents of the border communities. The people however, appealed to the federal government to call the security operatives enforcing the border closure and ban on petroleum to order before they succeed at eradicating them all.

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