Nigeria's land borders closed to all goods: head of customs

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria has closed its land borders to all movement of goods and has no timeline for reopening them, the head of the nation’s customs agency said.

“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 told reporters in Abuja this week.

Africa’s largest economy launched a partial border closure in August as part of an effort to curb rice smuggling and there have been widespread local media reports of a broader closure.

But Ali’s announcement was the first official confirmation of a total shutdown in trade across Nigeria’s land borders - including goods that had been moving legally.

“We are strategizing on how best the goods can be handled when we eventually get to the point where this operation will relax for the influx of goods,” he said. He did not give a timeline for any relaxation of the controls.

The closure has no impact on Nigeria’s oil exports, which are exported almost entirely via the nation’s ports and offshore oil platforms.

Reporting by Abraham Archirga; additional reporting by Felix Onuah; writing by Libby George; editing by David Clarke