The Customs Area Comptroller (CAC) Ogun State Command, Multafu Waindu Jilantikir, last Thursday hosted his Beninois counterpart, Mpo Isidore, who just resumed at Igolo Command of Benin Customs. The subject of discussion was the non-implementation of protocol on transit goods as required by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to reduce smuggling activities across the borders.
Benin Republic for obvious economic benefits has repeatedly reneged on this protocol.
Under the agreement, all second hand vehicles popularly called “Tokunbo”, among others coming into Nigeria through the neighbouring Benin Republic, would be handed over to Nigeria Customs officials at the border for payment of the necessary import duty and proper documentation.
Speaking to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY on the visit, Comptroller Multafu said Isidore came on courtesy visit and they used the opportunity to discuss the seemingly intractable problem.
“The Beninois customs recently made some changes in its administration. A new area comptroller was appointed for Igolo. He paid us a courtesy visit.
“He came together with the police commissioner in charge of the division. We used the opportunity to discuss some of the problems we encounter facilitating trade between Idiroko and Igolo.
“Some of the problems we encounter escorting vehicles meant for Nigeria to Idiroko. This is something we could not solve at our own level because it requires the central government to be involved.
“However we were able to discuss at length and at our own level we are going to form a committee that will be liaising between Nigeria and Benin to see how trade can be facilitated as regards the two countries.
“Many times we had had similar discussion with the Beninois on this issue that yielded no fruit. We are not losing hope; we will continue to impress it on them to abide by the tenets of the law that has to do with transit goods. This problem had remained for long.
“Transit goods to Nigeria are not given proper protocol by the Benin government. We have tried to engage them in meaningful dialogue and believe that we will eventually resolve the problem.
“The problem we have with them is lack of compliance. Goods that come to Nigeria from Benin Republic is supposed to be escorted by security operatives and handed over to the receiving country but they don’t follow this protocol. Some people believe that the reason why they do this may have to do with the economic benefits; the comparative advantage they have or what the gain from non-compliance in such cases.
“We have had meetings even at higher levels with them on this. There was even a case where their Comptroller General of Customs visited his own counterpart here where they spent two three days discussing this same matter but not much was achieved.
“Today again we have discussed the same matter. The same problem will continue to reoccur until they have the political will to do the right thing,” Multafu declared.
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