Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and its Beninoise counterpart are set to implement the Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) entered into by both countries on border safety and trade facilitation.
MoUs centre largely on how to combat border crimes and ease of doing business for the mutual benefit of both countries.
Between 2015 and 2016, the NCS and the Beninoise customs had entered into two MoUs on how to effectively police the borders as well as enhance trade for the mutual benefit of both countries.
To kick-start the implementation of the agreements, NCS’ Comptroller-General, Col. Hammed Ali (rtd), and top echelon of the service yesterday hosted their Beninoise counterparts led by that country’s Director General of Customs and Direct Tax, Mr. Saka Charles.
Receiving them at the customs headquarters in Abuja, Ali said the visit was aimed at discussing the modalities for the setting up of a technical committee by each of the two countries for the implementation of the MoUs.
The setting up of the technical committees, he stated, would be the take-off point of the implementation of the MoUs.
Expressing gratitude to the newly-appointed Beninoise customs chief and his team for the visit, Ali said it was imperative for both services to come together to operate and solve customs administrations’ problems.
He emphasised the need for a collaborative effort, saying such synergy was not only aimed at generating revenue for the respective nations but to ensure the security of the peoples.
“If our peoples are not secured, whatever we make as revenue will not be secured,” he said, adding that the safety of the peoples was paramount.
He said series of meetings had been held between NCS’ officials and their Beninoise counterparts, culminating in the signing of MoUs.
According to him, what was required was to dust up the agreements and put in place an
implementation mechanism with technical committees for monitoring.
In his remarks, the Beninoise customs chief while expressing his appreciation to the Nigeria Custom said the collaboration between the two countries was a demonstration of a keen spirit and discipline in pursing solutions.
He said the collaboration on issue of security around customs will ultimately bring the custom services closer.
According to him one of the difficulties they face was over second hand cars, popularly know Tokunbo with illegal routes for people going into Nigeria.
“When you are seated under a tree that gives you shade, it is important not to cut that tree and that is why this collaboration with Nigeria cannot be over-emphasised. We would like to devise a road-map, which may include involving Benin military in tackling this problem.
“I think Nigeria and Benin have the same destiny and those who share such destiny also have to sit at a roundtable to discuss and find out how the means of resources of the government can be used to sustain and fulfil their obligation to the public,” he said.
He refuted the notion that the meeting was as a result of the recent decision by Nigeria to ban car import through land borders.
In an interview with journalists, Ali who gave an insight into the MoUs, said the major contents include how to promote ease of doing business between Nigeria and Benin Republic, ensuring security as well as checking the movement of illicit items to and from both countries.
Meanwhile, the NCS boss has denied knowledge of the reported breaking and carting away of about 4,550 bags of rice from shops at the Sango Market, in the Ado Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun by Customs officials.
Ali said such a report was yet to get to his table.