The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) Mohammad Babandede says the service has no power to re-open Nigerian borders.
He disclosed this while speaking at the project validation meeting with very senior officers of the service, including zonal and state comptrollers of Immigration at the NIS headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday.
Nigeria launched borders closure in August, 2019 to tackle smuggling.
“All goods, for now, are banned from being exported or imported through our land borders and that is to ensure that we have total control over what comes in,” Hameed Ali, Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) told reporters in Abuja.
Spokesman for the NCS, Joseph Attah, had said the “present phase” of the closure would end on January 31, 2020, and that would not be the end of the closure.
“The operation is in phases, it will continue until the set objective is attained,” Attah told Reuters.
Babandede said only President Mohammadu Buhari could determine when the borders should be re-opened.
While explaining that the borders were not fully closed, Babandede said they were opened from 6am to 6pm.
“The borders are partially closed and this is in line with the ECOWAS rules where you must have travel documents,” he said. “You must enter through the legal routes and with documents.”
The NIS Comptroller General debunked insinuations that the operation was targeted at some neighbouring countries, adding that the initiative was designed to secure the country.
He also said the Visa on Arrival policy was not at variance with the ongoing border drills, emphasizing that the increase in the number of Visas from 6 to 79 was to enable appropriate endorsement based on request and to cover wide range of professions, skills, and areas of expertise and a platform for reciprocating in line with Diplomatic practices globally.
“The Visa is not free, payment is done online, Biometric capture is carried out at the point of issuance and due diligence is observed in a manner that will not compromise national security and in line with International best practices,” he said.