By Steve Agbota

President Bola Tinubu has ordered the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to return the food items seized at various border communities to their rightful owners, with the caveat that the items would be sold in Nigerian markets.

The Comptroller General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi, made the disclosure in Katsina at the weekend, while meeting with people from border areas at Kongolam and Mai’Adua border stations.

According to him, President Tinubu has made a decision to use his authority, not based on legal guidelines, but rather reflecting the deep sense of generosity he holds towards Nigeria.

“In doing so, he has directed that those food items that were going out of the country that have been seized in various border areas should be returned to the owners on the condition that those goods would be sold in the Nigerian markets.

“So, we will be monitoring you to know if there is a violation of this. Those food items will be returned, and it is a directive that we will pass them back into the Nigerian markets,” Adeniyi said.

Meanwhile, the Customs boss has also said that only President Tinubu will make a decision regarding the reopening of borders.

Adeniyi stated this while responding to the calls for the borders to be reopened.

He reassured the communities that discussions on the matter were ongoing.

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He hinted that once consultations were concluded, a decision will be taken on the matter.

Furthermore, Adeniyi confirmed that the Service will prioritise eliminating barriers that hinder free trade, aligning with the current government’s goal of promoting economic growth.

“We are conscious of the concerns of the border communities, particularly with regards to the number of checkpoints and the closure of land borders.

“I assure you that our operations are always guided by law, and we only operate on delegated powers. We have communicated the concerns and complaints by residents of the border communities to the President and because he has listening ears he directed that we should release confiscated food items, on the condition that they will only be sold in the Nigerian markets,” he said.

Adeniyi disclosed that Customs  is working with other agencies like the Police to solve problems affecting free trade at the border areas.

However,  he met with former President Muhammadu Buhari and the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Faruq-Umar during his visit.

“We know that there are markets around our borders, and we know that not all of them are targeted at taking goods across the borders.

“We will continue to monitor and ensure that food produced in Nigeria remains and is consumed in Nigeria. This is because we are in a period of national emergency that has to do with food insufficiency.

“And that is why we must collectively work together to assist the government to enforce the various laws prohibiting exportation of food items at this time,” he said.