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Monday, January 20, 2020

Benin summon Nigeria’s ambassador after attack on Benin businesses at the border

Nigeria’s ambassador to Benin has been summoned by Benin’s foreign minister following attacks on Benin traders on the border between the two countries, an official Benin official said on Sunday.

“The fact that I called the Nigerian ambassador is an expression of Benin’s dissatisfaction,” Benin Foreign Minister Aurélien Agbénonci told AFP.

Armed men from Nigeria last Friday, broke into the border of the towns of Adja-Ouèrè and Pobè and vandalized shops of Benin merchants, according to residents.

“Nigerian military and customs broke down the security gates of my shop located in the Adéromou district,” said Antoine Bamigbola, a Beninese merchant.

“They took 350 bags of 50 kg rice, 850,000 naira (the Nigerian currency widely used at the border, or 2,350 USD), and four laptops,” he said.

Other rice stores owned by Beninese at the border have suffered the similar fate, according to local authorities.

“They were armed to the teeth and held everyone in check,” said another witness, who said the attackers were over 30 and had several pickups.

According to the World Bank, Benin’s economy is heavily reliant on transit trade with Nigeria accounting for about 20% of its GDP.

Nigeria has closed its land borders with Benin without warning on 21st of August and accuses the country of bringing imported rice into its territory, which has hampered local production.

Presidents Patrice Talon and Muhamadu Buhari met at the end of August at the Tokyo International Conference on the Development of Africa (Ticad) and exchanged views on the subject, with no agreement on the way forward.

Last week, ministerial delegations of both countries and Niger met in Abuja to try to find a solution to the crisis.

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