…As Police Mount 50 Checkpoints on Road
…Double Clearing of Cargoes by Cotonou Govt, Nigeria
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Chairman of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at Seme Border Chapter, Mr Onyekachi Ojinma has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to remove ban on importation of vehicles through the Seme land borders, saying that at the moment, commercial activities at the border posts are dead.
In a chat with DAILY TREND on Thursday at Seme Border, Mr Ojinma said that since the borders were reopened, there has been no meaningful activities going on.
He alleged that security agencies, especially Nigeria Police Officers have mounted not less than fifty check points between Agbara and Seme Border, a situation that has encouraged extortion.
The ANLCA Chairman lamented double clearing of cargoes at Seme border, he said that this was encouraged by the policy of Nigeria Customs Service which has to do with containerization of all cargoes coming through the borders.
“There is no sign of any importation coming through this land border, we don’t know the reason for banning vehicles from entering through land borders. The government is not equally giving any soft landing on export goods.
“Government have officially opened up the border posts, but there is no business at the border for now because of bad roads, security agencies and multiple checkpoints.
“Between Badagry and Seme Border, there are about fifty checkpoints. By the time cargoes are brought through the border, extortion must have killed the owner.
“The business here is not equally friendly, we are doing double clearing of cargoes, we pay duty at Cotonou Port, on getting to Nigeria, you will be required to pay the same duty that is being collected at Apapa port. This has never been our style of doing business before.
“We have been having meetings with the Seme Customs CAC over this multiple checkpoints, he said he was trying his best, and the heads of these other agencies are tagging him as enemy of progress.
“Transit goods are still being asked to pay Cf9million instead of 0.3percent transit. These goods are manufactured from ECOWAS region, not in Cotonou, they are not supposed to open that cargo but the Cotonou government would collect duty.
“Now a Naira is equal to the Cefa now. After clearing cargoes with millions at Cotonou, on getting to Nigeria, you still have to pay millions to clear it again. Meanwhile, at Apapa port, it is not so. We are losing our importers” he lamented
Speaking on the crisis that has bedevilled ANLCA in the past four years, Mr Ojinma highlighted his efforts to rebuild the association since he was elected as Chairman. He said all the aggrieved parties have been brought together.
“Formally, there was no live here, the Secretariat was locked down for four years, but today, we have brought live back to Seme. Before now, you cannot see any export goods here, but today, you can see export goods lined up from here to Badagry, this is part of our efforts”
The ANLCA Chairman stated that the scanning machine donated to the Nigeria Customs Service by European Union (EU) is lying fallow at the border posts and it has not worked for four years now.
He complained about containerization of cargoes through the border.
He said “This is what we are suffering now, when you import containers through Cotonou port, our customs officers here would insists that you must offload it into a truck after examination.
They should allow transport the cargo to Nigeria as it is inside the containers.
“Now, we pay container demurrage, we pay truck, we pay stuffing and so on.” he said