Customs Loses 70 Officers To Smugglers Along Benin Border | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Customs Loses 70 Officers To Smugglers Along Benin Border

Posted: Aug 5, 2016 at 6:20 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Andrew Utulu


Lagos – The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has lost 70 of its officers in various battles with smugglers along Nigeria’s border with Republic of Benin.

Col. Hamid Ali (rtd), NCS Comptroller General, who disclosed this on Wednesday at a stakeholders’ interactive session at the residence of the Nigerian Ambassador to Republic of Benin in Cotonou, solicited the cooperation of the country’s Customs in the fight against smuggling at the border.

The Customs boss lamented the loss of 70 officers while combating smuggling within Idi Iroko and Seme area, saying that the biggest problem confronting Nigeria Customs Service until date is the lack of compliance on the part of traders in making honest declaration.

He emphasised the fact that borders are imaginary as far as ECOWAS was concerned and urged Benin Republic Customs administrations to work hard to ensure that trade between both countries are without unnecessary hindrances.

He further charged both Customs Services to co-operate and forge an understanding to move goods and services seamlessly, between countries in West Africa.

The Customs CG also reiterated the need to review existing MoUs and agreements, with a view to bringing them in conformity with internationally accepted standards in trade between countries.

He emphasised that both countries must address issues of dumping and smuggling across borders.

The CGC who was billed to meet with his Benin Republic counterpart on Thursday also? promised to bring up the challenges for discussion, especially the commonly traded items like rice and vehicles.

He said that solutions to the numerous complaints made to the embassy and those arising from other stakeholders meetings held earlier should be found.

He advised that everybody involved in the business of trading across West African countries to read the ETLS protocol and understand the laws as it affects the trade.

Also speaking at the interactive session, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, National President of Association of Nigeria Licensed Clearing Agents (ANLCA), who led a delegation of the association to Cotonou, drew the attention of the CGC to the expensive nature of doing business across the Benin-Nigeria border.

He said, “Cost of transiting ETLS (ECOWAS Goods) from Ghana to Lagos needs to be checked to provide room for trade facilitation and trade competitions within the West African sub region. “That is, a truck of ETLS cargo from Ghana pays 300,000cfa to exit Ghana into Togo and pays 400,000cfa to exit Togo into Benin Republic. The same truck will be charged 2,800,000cfa to exit Benin Republic into Nigeria, for reasons best known to Benin Republic Customs.”

Prince Shittu said the multiplicity of security agencies are further aggravating the expenses incurred in transiting cargoes across the borders, demanding a review of the agencies downwards.

Shittu pleaded with the CGC to intervene on the exchange rate and the increase in import duty.

He said imports were drying up fast because of the unfriendly policy, which he said was robbing government of much needed revenue and threatening thousands of jobs.

On the issue of DTI closures, the ANLCA President urged the CGC to hasten the process of allocating passwords to 2016 renewed Customs licences, as most jobs have been left hanging, with the abrupt shutdown again of commercial DTIs.

He said that the private DTIs would ensure that particular licences are held responsible whenever infractions occur.

On his part, Alhaja Karamatou Ibironke, Rice Millers Association’s leader, demanded to know the legal conditions for the exportation of rice to Nigeria so that they can abide by it. ?

Also speaking at the meeting, Chief Alaba Lawson, Chairperson of NACCIMA, Ogun State branch, wondered how rice gets into Nigeria massively, despite its ban through land borders.

He urged Customs to do more to curtail the trend or find a way to accommodate it to generate revenue for the government.