• Sat. Sep 23rd, 2023

    Seme-Krake Border Stakeholders Reach Agreement To Collaborate With Security Agencies

    In a significant development, all stakeholders operating at the Seme-Krake border and its surroundings have reached a unanimous agreement to collaborate closely with security agencies in addressing the pressing issues of arms and ammunition smuggling and other illicit activities along the border.

    During his inaugural visit to the bustling frontier border in the West African sub-region, Acting Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Adewale Adeniyi MFR, received the assurances from the stakeholders on Friday.

    In response, Adeniyi assured the stakeholders that if they wholeheartedly cooperate with the security agencies to combat arms and ammunition smuggling and other illegal activities, the government would consider reopening the Seme border for the importation of vehicles and other products that were previously banned from entering through the border.

    The NCS boss held productive meetings with traditional rulers, clearing agents, security agencies, and customs officers, vowing to tackle the challenges they brought to his attention. This includes streamlining the numerous checkpoints along Seme Road and addressing other issues by seeking solutions from the Federal government.

    Adeniyi emphasized that the NCS is collaborating with other government agencies, taking into account their unique characteristics, to streamline multiple checkpoints that hinder free trade and the movement of legitimate goods at the border posts. As a step in the right direction, he announced the disbandment of the CGC Strike Force team last week.

    Highlighting the potential trade and economic benefits for Nigeria within the ECOWAS socio-economic bloc, the Customs CG stressed the importance of improving bilateral trade relations with the help of technology in conjunction with foreign counterparts.

    The Service’s approach involves the implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to achieve these objectives.

    Expressing gratitude for the warm reception from traditional rulers and border community residents, Adeniyi called for the support of all government agencies in refraining from engaging in illegal and illegitimate business activities. He emphasized the significance of providing credible information and intelligence on illegal activities within and around the border post to the appropriate government security agencies.

    He said “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.

    The Customs Area Controller of the Command, Comptroller Dera Nnadi, shed light on various challenges faced by both the command and stakeholders at the Seme border post. These challenges encompassed smuggling activities, the presence of multiple checkpoints, and the intermittent closure of the border, among others.

    Nnadi emphasized the significance of the Seme border as it accounted for an impressive 70% of the transit traffic in the ECOWAS sub-region.

    Regarding revenue generation, Nnadi provided details on the Command’s financial performance. He disclosed that the revenue target for the year 2023 was set at N1.96 billion, constituting approximately 67% of their overall goal.

    Expressing the importance of continuous cooperation and support for effective border policing and security, Nnadi expressed his gratitude to the Customs boss and the entire team for their unwavering support in ensuring 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.

    Speaking during the event, Mr. Onyekachi Ojinma, Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Seme Chapter, emphasized the importance of implementing policies that would enhance the viability of borders for business and promote the growth of various services under President Bola Tinubu’s administration.

    In his speech, Mr. Joseph Gbenu, Chairman of the Badagry-West Local Council Development Area, expressed his appreciation for the visit of the Acting Comptroller General of Customs to Seme command. He pledged the support of his community in identifying and exposing individuals who aim to sabotage the nation’s economy by smuggling contraband through the borders.

    Before visiting Seme command, the Customs CG had the privilege of receiving royal blessings from the Akran of Badagry, Aholu Lehi Toyi.

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