Customs: Why Dangote Cement Dominate Export Through The Seme Land Border

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By Stephen Ubanna

 In spite of the initial hope that with the reopening of the 18 month-old closed Seme border, described  as the busiest in the African Continent  and other borders  across the country with the neighboring countries of Benin Republic, Niger and the Central African country of Cameroon, the optimism appears to have died down.

 This is because trading business nothing  is actually working out at the Seme border Community.  Signs that nothing is working out the  lander is evident  going by the large number  of the old trucks, laddened  with transit goods which had been trapped at  Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, border  Community which are covered with tarpaulin. 

Initially , Hameed Ali , a retired army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, had given the transit cargo importers with their agents hope that the  trucks would be released  by setting  up a Committee to handle the clearing and delivery process  process a with the support of the of Mohammed Yusuf Jibo, the Seme Command Area Comptroller and his  officers but  that  was how far he could go.

Jibo: Compt. Seme Command

This may  be telling on  the  transit cargo importers using the Autonomous  port of Benin , Cotonou and Bollore port to take delivery of their cargoes to lie low for now. Many of them were said to have resorted to the importation of  the Asian  countries of Thailand, Par boiled rice and the Indian Barsmati and Agricultural rice, including the  North American country of Vietenam Par boiled rice, which are smuggled into the Nigerian market through various illegal routes in  the north and southern part of the country.

 The Federal Operations units, FOUs, across the country and other ad-hoc Interventionist  units, may have  intercepted and seized  thousands of bags of foreign rice, of 50Kg each,  from the south east, south west, south-south, north central and the north west but that had not smugglers from carrying out their nefarious trade.

The Value News visit to Seme  border Community, on Thursday , April 29. 2021,  showed that  the Seme border Community  remain a shadow of itself, without few transporters  keeping the Lagos-Seme, which remain a death trap, busy. The Customs Authorities may have even sent a message to the people that economic  activities at the border Community are its lowest ebb as the gate of the Customs Truck site  was opened to public glare to show that nothing was happening .

An agent who spoke to the Magazine  lamented that many of them have been thrown out of business.  The agent disclosed that he was forced to relocate back to the ,order Community  to resume business with his Staff when the lander was opened last January but they were disappointed as the environment still looked dull for any business to thrive. He stated that both the agents, and the security agencies personnel, particular, the Customs personnel, who have to be in their offices daily are no longer finding it  funny, particular, the rank and files.

An officer who spoke to the Magazine on condition of anonymity disclosed that the situation at the Baggage  at the ECOWAS, Trade Liberalisation Services, ETLS, look  more  worrisome. The source disclosed that though the ETLS, and Enforcement officers of the Seme Command  may be seen to be very busy  because of one or two ELS truck  that enters   daily or weekly for examination.

Another officer who spoke to The Magazine  disclosed that the Land borders  across the country with the neighboring West and Central African countries may have been reopened to satisfy the wishes and aspirations of the  economic giant, Aliko Dangote,  to export Cement to Benin, Togo, Ghana, Niger and other countries in the west and Central African economic bloc.

It  is not surprising why the Deputy Comptroller, in-charge of the Seme Command  Export Seat and  his officers , appear to be very busy on a daily basis, because of the number of Dangote Trucks laden with Cement that line up at the land border Community , awaiting to be give given the green light to pass .

Dangote Cement For Export To West Coast Through Seme Border

A resident of Badagry town  told The Magazine that scores of Dangote Trucks loaded with cement pile up  daily along the Badagry – Seme Express way  daily  heading to the west coast market, which it had lost because of the 18-moths  border closure.

 Recall that prior to the reopening of the Land borders, across the country, Dangote, President of the Dangote Group of Companies, and Abdul Samad, Chairman, BUA, Group, were said to have  used their  contact in the Presidency  to win the heart of President Muhammadu Buhari , a retired army  General who gave  their Companies the approval to export their manufactured Cement to Niger and Togo, where it was in high demand.

  Dangote  Cement Company   is a publicly quoted Company, according to informed sources and which  complies with the Security and Exchange omission , SEC, full disclosure clauses and regularly update their transactions . The Company was  said to be  crossing  Illela Land border in Sokoto state  and Ohumbe border in Ogun state  to export their product.

It was therefore not very surprising that the officials of the Dangote Cement Company saw the reopening of the country’s Land borders with the neighbouring countries as an opportunity to export their product without further restraint through the Seme border.

At present, Dangote  the African richest  man Nigeria  Cement , are exported, mostly  through Seme, Illela and Ohumbe Land borders  is currently in  11 African countries, particular, the West Coast, using its ETLS, Trucks,  deliver to dealers. The source disclosed that the Dangote Cement Company has operational facilities  in Cameroon, Congo,  Ethiopia, Ghana,  Senegal, Togo  Sierra Leone, South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania.

Funny enough, the Customs Authorities at the Seme  Land border  were looking  forward to other approved ELS, Companies in Nigeria, to join the Dangote Cement Company in the west  coast export market, but the Companies still remain  to be reluctant to do so , thus ,making  the coast clear for the  Dangote  Cement.

 There are over 2,400 registered ETLS , Companies in Nigeria, and9 of the  6,900 products that are manufactured by the ETLS Companies, within the West African subregion, about 70% of it   are  manufactured in Nigeria while the remaining are manufactured in other African countries.

 This may have informed why the Seme Land border  Export Seat officers had expected the ETLS  Companies to take advantage of the reopened  land border to flood the Command  Export Seat with exportable goods.  Between January and March 2021, Jibo the Command Area Comptroller disclosed that they recorded a trade volume  of 378,827,775 metric tons of exported goods, mostly, cement, from Dangote Cement Company,  with a  free on board, FOB, value of about N4.3 billion and the NESS value of about N21.4 million, which was said to have been realised and paid into the Federation Account.    

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