Adewale Adeniyi, Ag. Comptroller-General of Customs has promised to rationalize multiple checkpoints along the border communities as well as boost bilateral trade and good diplomatic relationships between borders nations for improved national security.
Speaking during a working visit to the Seme Command of the NCS and Seme-Krake Border communities on Friday, the Customs CG noted that national security is the responsibility of everyone and should not be left for government agencies alone.
The Customs Boss said that the Service is working together with other government agencies bearing in mind their peculiarities, to rationalise the multiple checkpoints inhibiting free trade and movement of legitimate goods at the border posts.
Adeniyi noted that the service has taken the first shot in this particular direction by announcing last week that the CGC Strike Force team has been disbanded.
The CGC noted that there are numerous trade and economic benefits for Nigeria within the ECOWAS socioeconomic bloc. He however noted that the Service in collaboration with foreign counterparts will work on improving and developing better bilateral trade relations driven by technology.
Adeniyi added that the service seeks to achieve these through the implementation of ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
While appreciating the traditional rulers and residents of the border communities for their warm reception, Adeniyi however sought for the support to all government agencies by desisting from illegal and illegitimate business and most importantly providing credible information and intelligence on illegal activities in and around the border post to appropriate government security agencies.
His words: “When it comes to border security, management and others, the Customs plays a very important role. But of course, we know that we cannot play this role successfully without collaborating with other agencies who also have their mandates in and around the borders. We must draw strength from the complementarity of our operations.
“We are already familiar with the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme, which started over 30 years ago. While we are grappling with this, other parts of the world, they have made significant progress. What this portends for us is that while we trade with other regional blocs outside our areas, we still have to define our economic prosperity in the framework of the trade that we conduct between ourselves.
“So Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Ghana, there is so much that we can trade, and there is so much depth that we can look out for when we define our future in terms of inward-looking economic development model.
This is what ETLS is all about. This is what African Continental Free Trade Area is all about. So whether we like it or not, the move and drive is towards suspension of Customs duty on goods that are traded within this economic bloc.
“This should be a collective charge for all of us. I charge us, let us work together to see how we can rationalize these checkpoints.
Bearing in mind, of course, some peculiarities for our agencies. I understand that the situation for one agency might be different from the other. But I believe that if we sit together and map the entire corridor from here to Badagry and from here to Mile 2, we should be able to find a way to see how we can rationalize this. Customs has taken the first shot in this particular direction by announcing last week that the Comptroller General Strike Force has been disbanded” Adeniyi noted.
Also speaking,, the Customs Area Controller, Seme Border Command, Comptroller Dera Nnadi elucidated some of the challenges faced by the command and stakeholders around the Seme border post; ranging from smuggling activities, multiple checkpoints, border closure amongst others.
Nnadi noted that the Seme border accounts for about 70 per cent of the transit traffic in the ECOWAS sub-region.
Giving details of the revenue generated by the Command, he noted that the Command’s revenue target for the year 2023 is N1.96billion, which represents 67 per cent of their given target.
While seeking for continued cooperation and support towards effective border policing and security, Nnadi appreciated the Customs boss and his team for their support to the success and welfare of the officers and men of the Command.
“Several factors have been adjudged to hamper trade (between Nigeria and her proximate neighbour) within the sub-region especially transit trade across the countries and along the corridor. There have been several complaints by operators against the closure of the borders, the non-adherence to transit agreements signed under the ECOWAS, World Trade Organisation (WTO), World Customs Organisation (WCO) and the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff.
“As I conclude, let me mention that the facility we have here need constant upgrading, the vehicle and truck parks need to be paved, the flood lights need to be replaced. On our part, effort is being made to remove the unapproved checkpoints along the corridor. In the same vein, we thank the Federal Government for the intervention in repairing the road along the corridor and leading into Seme-Krake JBP” Nnadi stated.
Also speaking, Mr Onyekachi Ojinma, the Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Seme Chapter, urged President Bola Tinubu to put in place policies to let borders be more viable for business and services to thrive.
In his remarks, Mr Joseph Gbenu, the Chairman, Badagry-West Local Council Development Area, commended the Acting Comptroller General of Customs for visiting Seme command.
He assured him that his people would expose enemies of the country who were bent on sabotaging the economy of the country by bringing contraband through the borders.
The Customs CG had earlier visited the Akran of Badagry, Aholu Lehi Toyi, where he received royal blessings.