By Stephen Ubanna
Officials of the European Union, World Bank
This is because of the appearance side by side of the Customs officials and other security agencies personnel including the transit cargo importer agent from the participating countries that shares Boundary in the West and central African sub-region, to carry out the one Spot examination and then final release of the cargo.
Prior to the take off of the policy at the JBPs , transit cargoes for instance, coming into the Nigerian market are examined both in Republic of Benin and Nigeria side of the Border before the agent could be allowed to take delivery of the transit cargo from the land border.
It was a bad arrangement which was eating deep into the pocket of the transit cargo importers and thus the cuting of corners to facilitate the release of the cargoes by evading payment of duty to the Nigerian government most often with the active connivance of the Beninois Customs officials after opening the seal of the Container for examination at the Cotonou seaport. Indeed, the country was losing billions of naira annually as it became a thriving racket between the Beninois and the Nigerian Customs personnel and the transit cargoes agents from both countries.
It was therefore not very surprising of the initial opposition and plot to sabotage the scheme but JICA, , the World Bank and NEPA , officials stood their ground to initiate sensitisation Campaigns through Workshops and Seminars in the Economic Comunity of West African state of Ghana to facilitate theimplementation of the One Spt JBP Concept in 2018.
Many knew that there was no going back on the implementation of the African Union Development Agency. AUDA-NEPAD, One Spot JBP, clearing process for transit and ETLS cargoes when the European Union demolished the old ECOWAS building at Seme Border Community and replaced it with basic infrastructural facilities for that fits into the Scheme as both the Beniois Customs, Immigration and their Nigerian counterparts were accommodate in the same building to make the job easy.
Note that the Customs , Immigration and other security agencies officials in the West and Central African sub-region did not experiencing much difficult in fitting into the new arrangement as the JICA, the World and NEPAD officials had already prepared their mind in advance for it.
Take for instance Cotonou port, the Republic of Benin fiscal policies allows the importation of foreign rice and vehicles into the country but banned from entering into the Nigerian market through the land Border. This is in addition to second hand clothing , processed vegetable oil and poultry products including textile materials among others. The Customs officials from both countries have learnt to manage their political, economic and language differences to do the work without any visible conflict. The situation is the same at at the Nope -Akanu JBP, between Ghana an English speaking country, another French speaking country. and Togo. The Customs and other security agencies official from the two countries, according to the Value findings at the JBP after every examination allow the Transit and ETLS , cargoes to go through the approved entry and exit routes approved by the ECOWAS in the case of member countries.
Recall that at the inauguration of the Seme-Krake JBP last year by President Muhammadu Buhari and Patrick Talon, his Beninois counterpart , Kassi Brou, ECOWAS Commission President had described the One Stop Joint post as of utmost importance to ECOWAS member states and especially to regional integration. ”The border post will facilitate and boost trade between the sub-region member states”, he had said. Note that the JBP, which is located on the Abidjan-Lagos corridor handles for about 70 percent of all transit cargoes trade in the ECOWAS sub-region.
Insiders told The Value News that JICA , AUDA-NEPA, officials , have continuously been monitoring the Customs , Immigration and other security agencies to see how they go about the implementation of the One Spot JBP Concept. In the case of the Seme-Krake, JBP, the NCS Trade and Tariff officials at the Abuja Headquarters , are not left out in monitoring the activities of the Seme Command officers to ensure they situation on ground at the Seme- Krake JBP to ensure they comply with the Cross -Border Trade Facilitation a and One Stop JBP Concept activities.
Barely one year after the take off of the implementatation of the Concept at the completed and approved ECOWAS and Central African sub-region JBPs, the AUDA-NEPAD have scheduled to hold a Cross -Border Trade Facilitation activities meeting on the One Stop JBP. the participant who are drawn from the west and Central African sub-region member countries , according to sources are expected to converge in Accra , Ghana, between Sunday, May 19, 2019 and Sunday, May 26, 2019, to assess the performance of the Cross-Border trade Facilitation and One Spot JBP clearing process of Transit and ETLS goods.
It was gathered that the Customs Authorities had made adequate arrangement to participate in the Workshop. It was said to have nominated officers that would represent the Service at the one week Conference from the Customs Headquarters and land Border Commands . The ministry of Finance and Finance, Trade and Foreign Affairs , according to the source, will also send Representatives to the meeting
. Close sources at the Customs Headquarters informed the Magazine that one K. U. Garba, Comptroller , Import and Export, at the instance of Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and NCS, had written Geofrey Oyeama, the minister of Foreign Affairs on Thursday, May 16, 2019, intimating him of the Customs officials nominated to represent the Service in the one week Conference and who in turn had alerted the Embassy officials at Accra, abot the meeting.
Unconfirmed report has it that Uba .G. Muhammed, Comptroller, Seme Command , who has been involved from the onset in administering the Cross- Border Trade facilitation and JBP One Spot transit and ETLS cargoes Clearing Process was amog the Customs officers nominated by the Management to attend the meeting. Note that the Customs Comptroller, who speaks French , which makes it easy for him to relate with his Beninois counterpart , was at the One Stop JBP Conference in Ghana last Year where he had opportunity of interacting with some Customs officials from the East African sub-region member countries,about the Cross Border Trade Facilitation and the management of the JBP Concept which is helping him to run Seme-Krake JBP without any visible problem.
It is not surprising why the Seme Customs Comptroller is making a headway in solving problems, particular, areas of disagreement during examination of cargoes at the JBP. he was said to have handled problems arising from disagreement between his officers and their Beniois counterparts in interpreting the Customs and Excise Management Act, CEMA, with administrative expertise that the Parties have been very happy. It was His Beniois counterpart , according to a source, consults with him regularly to avoid making a mistake in taking decisions on transit cargoes or ETLS goods.
A retired senior Customs officer who spoke to The Value News disclosed that it did not come to them as a surprise over the implementation of the One Stop JBB in the West and Central African sub-region. The retired senior Customs officer disclosed that prior to his exit from the Service in 2014, the JBP Concept had been in the works for about eight years with the ECOWAS member countries dragging their feet whether to support it or not.
The retired officer disclosed that there were series of workshops and seminars to sensitise Customs and Immigration personnel from both the West and Central African sub-region member countries in Ghana about the gains of the JBPand the need to embrace it for the conduct of trade transactions as obtained in the six member countries of the East African sub-region but that was how far the organisers could go.
In spite of low economic activities at the JBP, any believe that Nigeria is currently benefitting from the One -Stop JBP, at Seme -Krake , particular in revenue generation as areas of revenue leakages appears to have been closed.
the Command was said to have collected and paid into the Federation Account about N 538.03 billion in the month of January but the revenue, however, dropped to N401.8 million in February due to the closure of the Atlas Park initially used to keep transit cargoes by importers with their agent at Benin side of the JBP
. There are indications that the revenue generation of the Command has improved in the subsequent months as the problems associated with the closure of the old Atlas Park and the alleged plot by the Beninois Customs officials and other security agencies have gradually been overcome as transit cargoes agents now take delivery of their importers’ cargoes with ease and ensuring that appropriate duties are paid, no thanks to Muhammed. the increased revenue in the months of March and
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