Nigeria has announced its decision to immediately reopen four of its land border crossing points shut about 17 months ago, thus ending weeks of speculations that the borders closed last year to curtail smuggling of light weapons and rice would be reopened before the end of the year.

The country had closed its land borders on August 19, last year as part of efforts to curb smuggling of rice and arms, which the government believed threatens measures put in place to boost local production, enhance security and to generate state revenues through import duty

The Federal Executive Council FEC at its meeting held Wednesday, approved the reopening of Seme border located on the South West, Illela and Maigatari border in the North West and Mfun in the South. The others will be reopened on December 31.

However, the government retains the restrictions on rice import and some other products.

It was gathered that the reopening of the borders is in line with last month’s ratification its membership of the African free-trade zone due to be launched in January, after initial reluctance to join the bloc for fear of exposing local industries to dumping by countries outside Africa.

Discussions to reopen Nigeria’s borders closed to the movement of goods have been going on for months. The government had insisted on levying duties on goods transiting the country through neighbouring nations to curb smuggling.

Meanwhile there have been speculations that the government would have no other option than to reopen the shut borders before the end of the year to pave the for the January 1, 2020 take off of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement ACfTA, which the country is a signatory to.