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Border Opening: Don’t import vehicles, rice through land borders – Customs warns importers

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Customs

Abiola Seun

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has said importation of foreign used vehicles, also known as, Tokunbo and foreign parboiled rice remained banned through the nation’s land borders.

The federal government, last week, approved the re-opening of Idiroko, Jibiya, Kamba and Ikom borders.

 Also, in 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari, announced the re-opening of Seme, Illela, Maigatari and Mfun after shutting it for over two years over smuggling of contrabands through the land borders

However, the National Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Timi Bomodi, said foreign used vehicles and parboiled rice are not allowed through the land borders.

According to him, the only legitimate border for foreign used and new vehicles to come into Nigeria is through the seaports while foreign parboiled rice are outrightly banned from coming into the country either through the nation’s seaports or land borders.

“Cars can only be imported through the ports, while rice cannot come in at all,” Bomodi, a deputy Comptroller of Customs said.

However, stakeholders in the maritime sector have bemoaned the shutting of the nation’s land borders, saying the nation lost everything and gained nothing from the border closure.

According to the National President, National Council of Managing Director of Liscenced Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, shutting border is a primitive way of securing the country, saying a lot of businessmen lost huge amount to border closure.

Amiwero stated that other African countries in West Africa will be wary of doing business with Nigeria due to antecedent in trade decisions.

He said, “we achieved nothing, our closing the border doesn’t achieve anything.

“Before closing the border, how much was rice and now, is it cheaper? Closing the border is not best for anything because the border is not supposed to be closed for anything.

“Where in the world do you see people closing their borders? Else, there is coup or emergency and none happened to us but what we have is smuggling and what we are supposed to do to change the whole system was what we called mutual administrative assistance.

” This is a convention on Customs matters and that convention helps to tackle border crimes.

“We have two of that in Customs and the third one is universal and we should have gone into mutual agreement with Chad, Niger and Benin Republic.

“The convention is what America is operating as they are not closing any border. If I may ask, Who is closing border at this time? it’s a primitive way of operating as you don’t need to close your borders.

“We have ECOWAS treaty and there is ETLS goods, but we just closed the whole thing and it won’t give us credence as a nation and the trust to deal with us. Government should tell us what they gained during border closure,” he said

Also speaking, the National President, National Association of Freight Forwarders and Air Consolidators (NAFDAC), Prince Adeyinka Bakare, also disclosed that government should equip the land borders with technology to curb smuggling.

According to him, there are lots of unapproved routes where contrabands still find their ways into the country.

He said, “we have lots of unapproved entry and exit points and what is the personnel of the security agencies doing?

“What is their capacity to police the borders and the unapproved routes that we have.

“I want to believe the government have a reason for closing the borders but they haven’t told us what the reasons are and I think it’s for them to tell us the benefit from the border closure.

“We can’t complain or analyse the gains or loss when we don’t have the reasons for closing the borders and I know one of the major reasons is for security reason and probably nothing serious has changed as far as the security is concern and probably they have seen that insecurity goes beyond border closure.

“Smuggling wil reduce only when the border stations are well equipped and we have equipment to track smuggling any anyone who is involved in smuggling will not go through the border, but unapproved routes and until that is checked, smuggling will continue.”

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