Customs: Normalcy Returns To Seme As Ali Clears The Truck Congestion

By Stephen Ubanna

Economic and Social activities have returned to Seme, a  Border Community between Nigeria and Republic of Seme, as Aminu Dahiru, an Assistant Comptroller General in-charge of Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection, at the  instance of Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller , Nigerian Customs Service, has cleared the backlog of truck-laden goods that scattered everywhere  at the Border town.  

Residents told Value News that there was no basis for the Congestion at the Seme-Krake joint Border as there  had been free-flow of  truck laden cargoes over the years at the  land Border when  the Beninios Customs  allowed Nigerian importers with their agents to keep their transit cargoes at the transit park until when they are ready into Nigeria  for documentation and final release. Trouble was said to have started with the enforcement of   the International  Customs law on transit cargoes  from one country’s Command to another by Nuhammed Uba Garba, Comptroller ,Seme Command.  The situation , according to sources was made worse by the Beninois government policy  of cargoe  harmonisation , with the exception of vehicles, by insisting that  ”all  truck laden cargoes must pass  through  the  Joint Border Post , JBP, o”r cullect post  de controle dusta pose”  in French, allowed by the  Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Authorities.

In anger the Beninois Customs Authorities,  were said to have thrown open the door of the door of the closed  Atlas park for the transit cargoes meant for the Nigerian market  at the same time.

Investigation shows  that within one week they had released over 8,000, truck laden cargoes into the country which could not find space in the temporary site provided by the  Customs Authorities at Seme Command.   The y may  have done so  to prove to the Seme Comptroller that he cannot cope in handling the situation   in order  to force the Customs Authorities to reverse the policy and allow the status quo to remain: exploiting Nigerian tansit cargo owners.  

Unknown to them , Garba, the Seme Customs boss , has his plan B, on how to solve the congestion problem,  described as temporary by agents. He was said to have  to have  reached  out to Ali, the Comptroller General to seek for  an extension of the  temporary park  provided at the joint Border  to accommodate more truck laden cargoes  that were parked  on the road because of space constraint. 

The Comptroller General was said to have obliged his requested by sending Aminu  Dahiru, an Assistant Comptroller, ACG, to join forces with the  Seeme Command  officials  to clear the congestion  to allow for free flow of truck laden cargoes. Dahiru and his team  were said to have moved into action immediately. With their Combined  effort,  the Congestion  at the Joint Border which looked insurmountable in the last one and half months, , appear to have been cleared  as  free flow of Truck laden cargoes have been restored.

When   The Value News visited the  Seme Border Community on Wednesday,  April 24, 2019, and had opportunity  of finding of finding his way to the ECOWAS  premises  to witness the  Examination of cargoes by the  Beninos Customs and their Nigerian counterparts  including the ACG team as well representatives of other security agencies, it was discovered that the much talked  about  congestion at the Border  were human created.  The value witnessed  how the cargoes examined  and jointed released  drove out from the  ECOWAS premises without clustering at the  exit gate to cause congestions.

The Value News Reporter watched how the  agent of the driver of  the truck laden cargoes examined and released drove into the temporary park  provided  for keeping  such transit cargoes  with ease. The usual parking of trucks on the road  had disappeared, fueling speculation that the  Beninois Customs  initial plan was  ostensibly to frustrate   Garba,  the Seme Customs Comptroller and his men to see the situation as being beyond them.

While, the Beninois Customs Authorities may think  that they have pushed the Seme Command to the wall that they would come back to cap in hand begging for support,  the decision  appears to have  boosted  the revenue regeneration of the Command  as all loopholes to shortchange the government in the past by agents and their Customs collaborators had been blocked. the revenue generation of the Command may have been helped with the cancelation of the waiver policy of past Administrations by the Current President Muhammadu Buhari Administration as all revenue to  the Command have been collected in the last three months without any loss.

 Insiders told The Value  News  that as at April 23, 2019, the Command has collected about N791.062, billion.  A break down  shows  that  in January alone, when the Command was still making preparation to finalise arrangement for the transit trucks to relocate to the Nigeria side of the Border, it generated a about  N538.03 million for the government.  The revenue , generation of the Customs Command was said to have dropped last February with the Enforcement of the International  law on  transit cargo  as it merely collected  N401.8 million.

Muhammed Uba Garba: Comptroller, Seme Command

The persistence of Garba, the Seme  Custom Comptroller and his officers  in the Revenue and Enforcement headed by  Deputy Comptrollers Jibo and Adahunse Rashid , respectively have been alive to their duties  to ensure that the right things are done.

 It was not surprising that in the month of March, the Command, a d source disclosed  generated  generated over N670  million. Signs that the March  revenue , would be surpassed in this month of April, is obvious  with the return of free flows of Truck laden cargoes at the Joint Border.

Nobody  had expected  the  Command  to  have made such impressive revenue in the month of March alone , because of the ban  on the high revenue generating cargoes, particular, foreign parboiled rice and vehicles from coming through the land Border by the Buhari Administration on January 1, 2017.

A reliable source told  The Value News that the Seme Customs Comptroller may have laid the foundation for the improved revenue Collection.

Perhaps guided by the   development  at the Command  in the past,  he was said to have prevailed the Heads of the  various revenue generating Units and their men to sign  a  ”pledge to  be of good behaviour in the discharge of their duties. It was learnt that the  Heads of the  Commands’ Import , Revenue, ETLS, Export  and Bond  had signed  the document on behalf of their officers.

  The Customs Comptroller, according to sources , may have taken the decision to know who to hold responsible if there is any problem arising from any Unit  which may attract the intervention of the Customs Headquarters for the unit and the  officer linked to the action to answer the query.

This may be  working out as the revenue generation of the Command has continued to shut up in the recent time, a feat that could not be achieved by any former Area Comptroller of the Command.

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