As the Federal Government continues with its policy of border closure with Nigeria’s neighbouring countries, traditional rulers and residents of border communities in Ogun State have lamented the negative impact of the measure , saying that it 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 of over a dozen of the communities have said that 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.
Addressing a joint press conference in Abeokuta, the state capital, the leaders of the border communities under the aegis of Ogun West Consultative Forum (OWECOF) and other Stakeholders, urged President Muhammed Buhari to review the border closure and bring respite to their plights.
They pleaded with Buhari to also rescind his order, banning supply of petroleum within 20 kilometres radius of the border, lamenting that men of Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) have made life more miserable for them under the guise of upholding the presidential ban order on petroleum.
OWECOF’s spokesperson and a Professor of African Comparative History and Borderland Studies, Anthony Asiwaju alleged that the order, prohibiting petroleum movement by 20 kilometers to border communities 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.
“The regular suffering infrastructural deprivation and political marginalisation, the people of the territorial authorities and communities in border areas of Ogun state are now having to stand a wide range if human abuses,” he said.
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.