The Seme Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has decried what it called undue harassment and molestation of its officers by their Beninoise counterpart and violation of trans-border trade agreement by the Benin Republic government.
The development, SHIPS & PORTS DAILY gathered, prompted the Controller of the command, Comptroller Mohammed Aliyu to seek Customs management’s approval for officers to relocate from the Atlas Cove park in the Benin territory to another transit park that would be constructed on the Nigerian side of the border.
Confirming the development, Public Relations officer of the command, Taupyen Salenchang said officers were constantly harassed while performing their legitimate duty at Benin, in violation of the trade agreement between the two countries.
He said vacating the Benin territory would enable officers perform their duty without any fear of harassment by the Beninoise, adding that it will also help protect the security of the country.
He said the proposed transit park, if approved will help curb illegalities within the border corridor, facilitate trade and boost revenue generation of the command.
According to him, “If we have that kind of park in Nigeria, apart from revenue generation, it will also help in protecting the security of Nigeria because we don’t bring in containerised goods from Benin into Nigeria. When they bring it, they have to trans- load it within the Atlas Park and it is not in our territory.
“Due to some lapses that the Controller felt is hampering free movement of goods and is becoming a barrier to effective trade within the border and a hiccup to the efficiency and effectiveness of his officers, he felt officers should be moved to the Nigerian territory since we have a space where our officers will report to pending the completion of the ECOWAS building.
“It is the desire of the CAC that the EU opens up the ECOWAS building for free flow of movement where all the relevant agencies including Nigeria and Benin will be represented at the border post, and any illegality will be fished out easily and operation there will be standard.
“When it is completed and every agency moved in, it would facilitate trade and movement of people within the corridor and there won’t be any form of undue harassment of our officers,”
The command spokesman identified lack of accommodation for officers, electricity and non compliance of the host communities to the ills of smuggling despite several sensitization campaign as some of the challenges impacting negatively on its operation. .
“In terms of office logistics, the Seme command have been operating for 10 years without light. That has been a big challenge for us to source electricity. We operate on generator for power.
“Non-compliance of the host communities despite sensitization that we have used through the various platforms we have to reach them is one of the challenges we have because they are still desperate to smuggle and we still stand to implement government policy to combat all forms of illegalities and smuggling within the border. Officers living in houses own by smugglers due to lack of accommodation is also another challenge,” he said.
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