Customs’ incompetence leads to border closure – CRFFN

Customs’ incompetence leads to border closure – CRFFN

Segun Oladipupo    |   

The governing board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has attributed the decision of the Federal Government to shut the nation’s land borders to  lack of competence of the Nigeria Customs Service to carry out its statutory duties at the borders.

At the one day interactive session on Federal Government Land Border Closure: Freight Forwarders Perspective organised by the Governing Council Committee on Monitoring, Enforcement and Compliance in Lagos, Thursday, the Registrar of the Council, Barrister Samuel Nwakohu , claimed  that the cause of the problem leading to closure of the borders was a system failure especially on the part of Customs.

The Council however appealed to the Federal Government to open land borders to legitimate goods.

Barrister Samuel Nwakohu while briefing press after the session, said the call was not intended to encourage criminality but that compliant goods should be allowed to be traded across the borders.

He said the Council resolved, among other things, to  call for better training and equipping of the Service to meet global standard.

“The freight forwarders are not in any way encouraging criminalities but they are of the view that ETLS compliant goods should be allowed to go, they are of the view that what went wrong at the borders are as a result of system failure especially on the part of customs.

“They are of the view that the customs should be better equipped, better trained and adopt global best practice, they are of the view that compliance should be adhered to on the protocol of agreement in the West African region

“These are some of the resolutions that we have reached during the interactive session.”

On his part, Timothy Awogbemi, Chairman, Monitoring and Enforcement, CRFFN said the programme was aimed at acquainting the federal government with the stance of Freight Forwarders on the border closure.

He said the resolution at the session include improving on the scanner as well as platforms so that Nigeria can compete with international standard.

According to him, it was identified during the session that every small route should not be considered as a border saying major borders should be identified while others should be closed.

His words, “This is a programme called to make a presentation to the federal government the position of freight forwarders in Nigeria.

“The essence is to listen to critical stakeholders, hear their views, their opinions and what they feel about border closure and to make a joint communique to the Federal government of Nigeria.

“What we are saying here is that platform, the gate, the scanner should improve. They have to be able to be compared to international standard and every small route should not be a border in Nigeria.

“There should be a major border and all other borders closed and there should be facility improvement and training and retaining of our security personnel.”

Also speaking, Otunba Kunle Folarin, Chairman, Port Consultative Council said it was an open discussion by concerned persons seeking way out of the border closure.

He added that necessary framework should be put in place to forestall future occurrence of having to close the borders.

He said, “It is good to have an open discussion particularly for those who are either the beneficiaries or the victims of the policy.

“From the discussion today, it’s clear  that those who are affected feel that we should revisit the issue and the border should be opened and if not opened, there must be some framework to be done so that in future, we shall have no reason to close borders particularly the issue of customs administration.

“They have to reform, restructure all the treaties and the protocols for compliance.”

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