The Nigerian Senate has reassured residents of border communities that they can anticipate laws that will enable them to access essential food items and basic necessities of life without the need to travel outside their localities or endure unnecessary hardships.
This assurance was recently provided by the Senate Adhoc Committee on Customs and Excise during a meeting with stakeholders at the Seme-Krake border.
The committee expressed concern about previous policy issues that placed restrictions on trade items that border residents could purchase and move freely, as well as instances of heavy-handedness by security personnel in enforcing these policies.
The Senate further pledged to engage with the government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to explore options for reviewing and making policies more accommodating to the needs of border communities. They emphasized that, as Nigerians and human beings, border citizens have the right to access basic necessities within their settlements, regardless of national food security policies.
Senator Francis Fadahunsi, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Customs and Excise, stated that their visit to Seme-Krake aimed to understand reported conflicts between border community residents and security agents, particularly the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). He advised border community residents to cooperate with security operatives performing their duties and urged both Customs and community stakeholders to exercise restraint.
Fadahunsi emphasized the importance of peace and cooperation among border communities and security agencies to prevent conflicts and promote revenue generation. He also called for a balanced approach to enforcing laws related to items like rice and used vehicles, highlighting the cultural affinity and household consumption aspect that should be considered.
Additionally, he lamented recent skirmishes between citizens and Customs operatives, noting that such incidents do not reflect well on Nigeria and urged adherence to rules of engagement and operational ethics.
The committee’s visit and commitment to addressing border community concerns underscore the need for balanced policies and peaceful coexistence among residents and security agencies in border areas.