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Government may reopen land border soon – ANLCA

Tony Uju Nwabunike- Nigeriamaritime360.com
Segun Oladipupo/Chinazo Megbolu    |   

The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) on Monday has claimed that it has secured the assurances of the National Assembly (NASS) that the closed land borders will be gradually opened.

The Association added that the lawmakers have also agreed that it negates due process for lawmakers to be involved in cargo clearing.

This follows recent reports that lawmakers have concluded plans to take part in cargo clearing process in the port.

In a statement signed by its National President, Tony Nwabunike, the foremost customs agents group said that the Senate Committee on Customs and Excise has assured it that the border would be gradually opened even as the NASS denied any plan of involvement in cargo clearing process in the port.

“The association interacted with ranking members of the Senate over allegations of National Assembly members interference in cargo clearing.

“After closed door interactions, it was mutually agreed between ANLCA and members of the Senate Committee on Customs and Excise that it negates due process for lawmakers to be involved in cargo clearing.

“Chairman of the committee, Senator Francis Alimikhena gave his words that all cargo clearance hitherto stalled with shipping companies due to the committee’s activities and correspondence will be allowed to be processed in line with extant regulations.

“Senator  Francis Alimikhena concurred with ANLCA that: whereas the oversight functions of the lawmakers cannot be wished away on the executive arm of government and any of its agents, the day to day operation of duty collection, cargo examination, issuance of demand notices (when necessary) and effecting seizures for due infractions rest with the Nigeria Customs Service.”

Speaking further, Nwabunike said owing to the need for the Nigerian business community to maximize the benefits of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), ANLCA has received government assurances for consideration to rescind its decision on border closure .

He said that ANLCA reminded the Federal Government that AfCFTA regime which hopes to take effect from January 2021 with secretariat in Accra Ghana, will place Nigerian businesses people at disadvantage if the nation’s land borders remained closed to trade.

He maintained that the association further reminded the government that Nigeria will be shut out of trade with proximate countries of Benin Republic, Cameroun, Chad and Niger Republic in West and Central African countries.

“It also identified the historic and strategic trade impact of Nigeria to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) where it is bordered by Niger, Cameroun and Chad.

“The association therefore secured the assurances of the Federal Government on the need to effect gradual reopening of the closed borders with particular focus on rules of origin to prevent abuses of incentives like the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS).

“This in our view will help in discouraging smuggling activities through all approved routes.

“In line with the ECOWAS protocol, we hope all neighbouring countries will henceforth deliver transit goods to the Nigeria customs service.” Nwabunike submitted.

Advising the Nigeria Customs Service on the need  to be abreast of international best practices, “It should allow micro chip shoot on every container along the ECOWAS route into the country.

“It was observed as an issue of utmost concern that cargoes on transit and mobile assets like trucks laden with goods worth over N130b belonging to private business people were trapped since August 18, 2019 when the borders were shut under a joint operation, codenamed “Exercise Swift Response”.

“Most of the goods with perishable timelines have either been destroyed due to expiry periods or damaged beyond redemption as a result of exposure to unfavorable elements.

“ANLCA findings also confirm vandalism, theft and arson on some of the trucks and goods they carry, therefore causing great losses to many struggling business men and women.

“Of note is the over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs that have been lost so far due to this policy, which in our view, should have been approached and implemented differently,” ANLCA President stated.

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