The Federal Government says it is working towards amendment of the ECOWAS Protocols on free movement of human and cattle within countries in the sub-region to address the challenge of banditry.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this on Saturday when he featured on Channels Television programme, “Sunrise Daily’’ monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja
According to the minister, most of the bandits and criminal herdsmen terrorising the country are not Nigerians.
He said their coming into the country through the land borders could not be checked because of the ECOWAS Protocol that allows trans-human.
“The ECOWAS Protocols allows trans-human between all the ECOWAS countries.
“That is why we are thinking of seriously reviewing the ECOWAS Protocols in that respect.
“What we find out today is that a lot of criminalities have been introduced through the herdsmen and trans-human,’’ he said.
He said the criminal herdsmen and bandits also have access to sophisticated weapons because of the proliferation and smuggling of small arms and light weapons across the sub-region.
“The issue of smuggling of small and light arms is a very serious one and it has to do with border control.
“If you go and build a house in the slum as a rich man, poor people will not allow you to rest.
“Nigeria is surrounded by countries that are either poor or land-locked,’’ he said.
The minister added: “We say we want to develop our local agriculture to ensure food sufficiency, by encouraging our farmers to grow rice, maize, cassava and stop importation of rice.
“But our neighbor, the Benin Republic says no, because they make their living from the duties they collect from their ports.
“So, when we are charging 70 per cent duties on imported rice to discourage importation, they will charge five per cent.
“All the rice smugglers from Thailand and the rest of the world will come to Benin Republic, but the rice is destined for Nigeria market,’’ he said.
Mohammed said the security challenges including, farmer-herders clashes, insurgency, banditry and kidnapping in the country did not start during the administration.
He said the challenges built-up gradually over many years with certain factors including climate change, urbanisation and the shrinking of Lake Chad which supported agriculture of seven countries in the sun-region.