The Association of Nigerian licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has urged the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) to re-consider the ban on importation of vehicles through the land borders.
Chairman, Seme Chapter of ANLCA, Bisiriyu Lasisi Fanu made the call in a chat with newsmen in Seme. He stated that the importation of vehicles through the land borders has provided employment to over 500,000 graduates, who would have ordinarily be roaming the streets due to massive unemployment situation in the country.
He said such policy in the past had led to serious revenue leakages and massive smuggling along the border areas.
According to him, “Nigeria Government generates enough revenues on vehicle importations through the land borders; Seme Customs Area Command alone generates above N600, 000,000 monthly on vehicles duties. This figure was undoubtedly part of the projected budget for 2016 and if proper measures are in place, we should not be talking of borrowing N30, 000,000,000 to fund this year’s budget.
“Federal Government is unwittingly trying to ignite another form of crisis along the border areas in South West, North Central and North West, where smugglers will do everything to carry out their dastardly acts of terrorism. Sabotaging the economy as we are currently experiencing in the South-south with the militants blowing up oil installations and Boko Haram insurgency activities in the North east, we may be having too many troubles on our hands to contend with at the same time.”
He added that smuggling activities at Nigeria seaports are equally high, stressing that high rate of smuggling activities take place on daily basis at the seaport in the form of wrong declarations, concealments, under valuation, flying etc.
“World Customs Organisation (WCO) had stated it clearly that no country in the world today can totally eradicate smuggling but with necessary structures in place should be able to reduce it and its adverse effect on the economy. No country is totally independent and self-sufficient. We need each other for socio-economic growth and survival, Nigeria is not an exception. Our neighbouring countries joined forces with Nigerians in the fight against terrorism and insurgency in the North east and if we stop importation through the land borders, would they be willing to extend hands of fellowship to us in time of need?
“If there are violations of certain understandings, such as the MoU between the Federal Republic of Nigerian and Republic of Benin on cross border issues, signed on Friday 15th August, 2003 at Badagry, ECOWAS Treaty, Protocols and Agreements with our neighbouring countries, we are in a better position to enforce their full and strict implementation. Nigeria was well represented at a seminar in Ghana in 2012, involving five Nations: Nigeria, Ghana, Republic of Benin, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire, on WCO data model. Nigeria ought to have built and created enabling environment for its implementation which would have introduced safety and secured border operations on movement of persons, goods and services transiting within this corridor in West Africa,” he said.
The WCO data model, he said, was to harmonise data and create single electronic structure for more effective exchange of information between exporting nation (port of loading) and importing countries (port of discharge).
“With this no consignment will leave the country of loading without transmitting all necessary information electronically to the relevant Authorities at the country of discharge, if this is fully implemented, revenue leakages will be reduced drastically across the borders.
“The federal government should therefore consider our appeal and appreciate the plights of our citizenry that would be rendered jobless, thereby increasing their sufferings and those of their individual households, should the ban be allowed to hold. Furthermore, a grace period of three months would have been more appropriated to enable Vehicles on board to bath for clearance, if actually this Government with all her electioneering promises is still bent on going on to implement this inhuman policy,”he said.