Most Nigeria-Niger Republic border communities are currently gripped by an atmosphere of likely hostility and uncertainty, following the ultimatum given to the military junta in Republic of Niger by the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS) to restore the ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum, to power.

Already, the border communities have begun to experience some forms of hardship because of the economic sanctions imposed on the Niger junta by ECOWAS leaders.

Movements across the borders and within the communities are gradually coming to a halt, just as socio-economic activities have been paralysed, with trade and commerce the worst hit.

Our correspondents report that the people are living in perpetual fear of the unknown.

Disenchanted by the development, residents of Jibia-Magama border community in Katsina State have criticised the decision of ECOWAS leaders to invade Niger.

According to them, the shutdown of the border has crippled the socio-economic activities in the area, making the youth jobless and encouraging street begging as the best option to survive the hardship.

The resolution of ECOWAS leaders is affecting the livelihood of the Jibia-Magama border, with lots of them living in the uncertainty of what may happen next.

LEADERSHIP Weekend observed that the Jibia-Magama border has been shut down, and no vehicular movement is allowed in or out of the area, while a few trucks were seen parked along the roads.

According to our correspondents who visited the place, individuals were seen on foot crossing to a nearby town to attend a local market in Dan Isah community in the Nigerien territory.

There are also local traders who have also devised means to maneuver their way into local markets to buy and sell just to survive the hardship caused by the border closure and fuel subsidy removal that has skyrocketed prices of commodities.

Although security operatives have mounted roadblocks in some of the illegal routes to check the excess of such movement, people still find their way in because they can’t withstand the untold hardship.

One of the residents, Alhaji Abubakar Magama, told LEADERSHIP Weekend that they are not happy with the decision to close the border, which has rendered their youths jobless and terrified, causing hatred between them and the neighbouring Nigerien citizens.

He said, “We don’t know anything about subsidy before except now. All we knew then is Nigeria had available cheap foodstuffs, but the reverse is the case. No citizen of Nigeria can boast of eating one square meal a day or feed a visitor because of the hardship we face.

“Financial transactions have been blocked; they depend on food, especially from Nigeria, and that too has been blocked with the closure of land borders,” he stated.

Alhaji Aminu Dan’Iya, chairman, Sokoto State Customs Licensed Agents, also lamented the dilemma of over 100 of his members, who had been out of business since the border was closed.

The residents of the communities around Geidam and Mainesorowa, Nigeria-Niger border area in Yobe State, have said that the sanctions imposed by the ECOWAS over Niger military junta, especially the border closure, have crippled business activities in the area.

When our correspondents visited Geidam-Mainesorowa, Nigeria-Niger border villages such as Abbari, Bature-Wango, Bula-Barnaye, Garin-Gada, Ngomari and Adjuri of border junction, the communities expressed dismay that the border closure, since implementation, has hit them economically.

The chairman, Geidam Traders Association, who is also the zonal chairman of Fisheries Association, Yobe State, Alhaji Abdulrashid Abba, said attacking Niger among other sanctions will only create more hardship on the already existing privation necessitated by the activities of Boko Haram in the area.

“As border communities we are not in support of any military action against the Niger Republic. Immediately after the ECOWAS pronouncement 14 of us at the executive level met and openly opposed the decision because our area up to Damagaram and Kegime in Niger are part of former Kanem Borno hence we are one.

“Because of the border closure, a sachet of spaghetti that hitherto was sold at less than N300 is now over N500. President Bola Tinubu and indeed ECOWAS have to understand that we are not yet out of the Boko Haram crisis let alone igniting another crisis”.

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