By Nwangwu ubah
The European Union, EU, and the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, appear to have resolved a major conflict between Nigeria and Republic of Benin over the carrying of arms at the Seme-Krake Joint Border post.
until the Commissioning of the ECOWAS office Complex built with the financial support of the European Union,EU, at the Joint Border post last October, by President Muhammadu Buhari in his capacity as the Chairman of ECOWAS and Patrice Talon, his Beninois counterpart, the French speaking country security operatives had always intimidated their Nigerian counterparts at the Land Border post.
The Commissioning of the ECOWAS building, a senior Customs officer confirmed may have brought the Republic of Benin security operatives to their senses that the Seme-Krake Joint Border belong to neither Republic of Benin nor Nigeria, an indication that security operatives from both countries are free to carry guns in the discharge of their duties at the Border.
The only caveat, according to the source is that no security operative from Nigeria side of the Border may be allowed to enter the Republic of Benin side of the Border with their weapons . In the same vein, no Beninois security operative is also allowed to use gun on Nigeria side of the Border.
The ECOWAS officials may have made matter easy for the two countries that share boundary at the Seme-Krake Border to have offices close to each other to facilitate the effective implementation of the One Spot Border Post processing of Cross- Border travellers and import documents.
Recall that the Japanese International Cooperation Agency
The workshop was a fallout of the ease of the Economic Integration policy in the East African countries of Ethiopia, kenya,Uganda, Tanzania, Buundi and Rwanda, which operate one regional parliament, Customs Union and use one Common language, kiswahili for business transactions.
There was the initial fear of JICA and the World Bank officials was that the One Spot Border Post will not be effective in the West African sub-region, particular, because the Border posts that exist in the region alone. Take for instance, the Seme-Krake Joint Border post between Nigeria and Republic of Benin and the Akanu /Nuepe Border post between Ghana and Togo among others.
JICA and the World Bank officials were said to have assured Nigerians and Beninois government officials at the Workshop that if the policy could be adopted and implemented at the designated International Border posts Constructed by the EU and ECOWAS, in the sub-region, it would lead to cost minimisation, promotion of regional Integration, Cooperation and Economic development for the regions.
True to their
This is evident going by what is happening at the Joint Border post as the Beninois Immigration,
Garba, who is the Chairman of the Seme -Krake Joint Border post and Charles Inusa Sacca Boco, Director General, Republic of Benin Customs Administration and the Vice Chairman are said to be working closely together to manage and maintain the ECOWAS facilities.
The officials of the Economic body, according to sources, are expected to take over the Management of the building in the next three years. It was learnt the Joint Border Security Committee Executives have been in touch with the ECOWAS officials and who are likely to visit the Administrative Complex this February.
The Seme Customs Comptroller is optimistic that by the time One Spot Joint Border post, becomes fully operational with the enforcement on Customs International Law on transit cargoes to go through the single entry and exit route provided by the ECOWAS, it would improve the monthly revenue of the Command.
The revenue generation of the Command may have been affected over the years because of the several illegal outlets used by Cross -Border importers to take delivery of their transit cargoes without proper documentation.
Given an insider information, the Customs Comptroller disclosed that the Command which had a revenue target of over N8 billion to pay into the Federation Account last year , succeeded in paying about 76 percent of the target . In the month of December alone, he explained that the Command generated N623.03 million.
An elated Garba said the Command could achieve that much last year because of the ” unwavering resolve of the officers and men of the Command in its various operations which focused in maximising revenue collection, suppression of smuggling and facilitation of legitimate trade as proficiently reinforced across Lagos –
He noted that the Command anti-smuggling Operations produced impressive results. Given a further insight into the anti-smuggling Operations between November and December last year, he said they intercepted 6,753 50Kg bags, equivalent of 11 trucks load of foreign parboiled rice which were smuggled into the country through unapproved routes from Republic of Benin.
While conducting Journalists round the seizures made by the Command which include 22 exotic vehicles they were said to have been Toyota Coaster Van, Toyota Landcruiser, Prado Jeep, Mercedes Benz GLK350, Toyota Siena and Toyota 4runner. The DPV of the vehicles was put at about N177.3m. While the inspections were going on to show case the siezed items a patrol team on January 14, 2019 brought in additional three pickups load of rice . It could not be ascertained the quantity of foreign rice in each of the branded pickups. the seizures which were made in the bush were said to have been master-minded by one Superintendent of Isah, who led the operations.
The Customs Comptroller disclosed further that the Command anti-smuggling officers dispossessed Cross- Border smugglers of 45 X25Kg Jerry cans of vegetable oil, 71 litres of PMS popular ,petrol, with a DPV , of N106,000.00, 135 X 50Kg bags Sugar, with a DPV, of N567,000.00, 21 cartons of Tomatoes, DPV,127,575.00, and two sacks of used shoes with a DPV OF N67,500.00.
This is in addition to 91 intercepted parcels of hard drugs/ Narcotics which he confirmed had been handed over to the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, for further Investigation. The combination of the revenue generated by the Command in December , 2018 and and the DV, of the Contraband goods seized was put at about N1. 055 billion.
T But what should gladden the heart of Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller, NCS, is that of the seven suspects prosecuted by the Command NDLEA last year, three of them were said to have been sentenced to different terms of imprisonment. that One of the suspects , Difo Kenneth Cornelius, who was transferred to NDLEA , Seme Command, was said to have been given two years imprisonment.
He was said to have been imprisoned over unlawful possession of 7Kg of Canabis Sativa, popular India Hemp. The imprisonment of the India Hemp suspect is a warning to others involved in the Narcotic business that the game is up.