Fraudulent importers Take Advantage Of Reopened Jibia Border To Engage In Legitimate Trade, Stop Smuggling

By Stephen Ubanna

When President Muhammadu Buhammadu Buhari, on the recommendation of Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, reopened the Jibia Land border,    last April, cross-border traders in Katsina state heaved a sigh of relief.

  The reopening of the Jibia border, alongside  Idiroko border border post in Ogun sate, south west Nigeria,  Kamba border in Kebbi state , north west Nigeria and  Ikom, border post , in Cross river state, south-south Nigeria, may have given the cross-border traders who had abandoned their Legitimate trade because of the border closures in August , 2019, to resort to smuggling to eke a living to return back to import and export business at the reopened borders.

  The Legitimate import and export business transactions appear more pronounced at the  Jiba border post as the traders are no longer prepared to lose both their money and cargo to government  as they opted to do the right thing by ensuring compliance  with the extant  operational guidelines  to avoid playing into the hands of Comptroller Dalhatu Chedi Wada, Area Controller, Ktsina Command men, who are everywhere in the state.

Many of the Legitimate cross-border traders  who could not relocate to the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tin-can Island , Port Multi-services Terminal Limited , PT,ML, KiriKiri Lighter Terminal, Phases I or II, or the south east Port  of PortHarcourt Area 11, onne, including the Semme/Karke Land border, in the South west  state of Lagos State, to take delivery of their cargoes, were said to have turned the Katsina Command premises as their  second office to make enquiries  approve imports and export goods allowed in the government 2022, Fiscal policy. And how to go about it.

The Jibia cross-border traders may have known that the Customs Authorities have given Comptroller Wada, more powers to deal with smugglers and seize their Contraband with the Federal government approval for Implementation of the 2022, Fiscal Policy Measures and Tariff Amendments.

The 2022 Fiscal Policy, made up of Supplementay Measures, SPM, for the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Common External Tariff, CET,  2022-2029, and Excise  on Non-Alcoholic  beverages, Cigarettes and Tobacco roducts, as well as Telecommunication  services with effect from April, 2022 but the document was said to have been  forwarded to the various Customs Formations on May 2, 2022.  

Comptroller  Wada may have taken advantage  of the  Annexe 1 , of the SPM, which includes ‘’the Import Adjustment  Tax, IAT,  with additional  taxes and Levy on 172 Tariffs Lines  of extant ECOWAS CET and the import prohibition  list  applicable  only to certain  goods  originating  from the Asian countries of India and China and other non- ECOWAS, member  states, to effectively  police the  Jibia Border post operations and collect the appropriate revenue for the  government  by  ‘’adhering ‘’ to Customs procedures’’. He got it right.

 In spite of the fact that the Katsina Customs Command, is an entirely an interventionist Unit, it was said to have joined the league of Customs revenue generation Commands for the government between May and mid of June, 2022. It was said to have collected was said to have collected the total sum of about N104.74 million within the period  which   Comptroller Wada, had said   was paid into the Federation Account.

Analysts had described the Katsina Command revenue collection which was paid into the Federation Account as Commendable, meaning that with the measures that had been put in place to tighten up security at the   Jibia border post and block areas of revenue leakage at the Command  as Comptroller Auwal Mohammed was said to have done at Onne port,thus boosting  the Command monthly revenue collections, Comptroller Wada, may beam with smiles in the next coming months over its revenue collection.

 Note that the Katsina Command, over the last three years has not collected any revenue for the government at the Jibia border, let alone pay any money into the Federation Account,   Comptroller Wada may have broken the records.

 The reopened Jibia border was said to have also boosted the volume of export handled by the Command, within the period under review. Comptroller Wada had revealed that two categories of exports, Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG and Cement, with the Nigeria Export Supervision cheme Fees, of  N5,027,592.44 and  N183,942.77, res[ectively,  thus  bringing  the total  NESS Fees for the two  exported items to N5,211,535.21 have been approved by the government.

Katsina Records Decline In Vehicle Smuggling Activities

According to him,  the volume of export  handled by the Command through the  busy  Jiba  border in in the north west  was 4,000 metric tonnes of LPG,  valued at about   N1 billion  and 1,000 metric tonnes of Cement  worth  about N32. 293 milion. Note that the price of LPG, in Nigeria have gone up astronomically in the country because of the rush for the export market, particular,  the West Coast market to sale the  item.

Until, the Nigerian government gave the LPG, Manufacturing Companies the opportunity to export the product, the Katsina Command had at different times seized pieces of 2.5 and 5 Kgs of the LPG being smuggled outside the country through illegal routes in different parts of Katsina state by the Command Patrol Teams . Between May 1st, 2022 and mid June 2022, the command had intercepted 18 pieces of LPG, of 2.5 Kg each valued at about n340,200.00 .

There is no gain saying the fact that the Katsina Command made a total Contraband seizure of N38,575,887.00, within the period under review in the state. Recall that the Nigerian President had banned the importation of vehicles and foreign par boiled rice through the Land borders across the country on January 1, 2017. The policy was said to have been extended to the country’s seaports in June 2017 and has not been reviewed.

This may have informed why Comptroller Wada and his Patrol Team officers have gone all out after the smugglers, forcing many of them to go underground as they could no longer cope with the hit. The Command various  Patrol Teams were said to have intercepted  several items , ranging from Vehicles, foreign Par boiled rice, Automotive Gas Oil, AGO, Popular, diesel, Premium Motor Spirit  or Petrol,  seven vehicles, comprising of Nissan Jeep with a Duty Paid Value of N1.755 billion , among others.

 One of the intercepted vehicles was a NISSAN Jeep, with a Duty Paid Value, DPV, of N1.7555 billion, Three Toyota Carina II,  Valued at N742,500.00, 675,0000.0 and 607,000.00  respectively. This is in addition to one used Golf 3, with Registration No. WDLA20AA, with a DPV, of about N1.62 million, and a Used J5 Bus, with Registration No.RMY122XA valued at about N1.5 million.

Katsina Command Intercepted Bags Of Foreign Rice, 50Kg each

The  general Merchandise goods that were aid to have been seized by the Command  Patrol Teams and transferred to the premises amidst tight security  were  715 bags of Foreign par boiled rice of 50Kg each, worth about  N19.00 milion, 79 Jerry cans of 25 litres each of  AGO, popular, Diesel, which Valuation experts had put at about NN1. 35 bilion and 75 Jerry cans Petrol, with a DPV, of  about N351 million. Other Contraband items that were said to have been seized by the Command include a hundred  cartons Foreign  Spaghetti,  43 cartons of Foreign Macaroni,  13, Jerry cans of 25 litres each of Vegeable oil,  57 cartons of  Foreign Milk, 119 cartons of Foreign Soap,  Bales of second hand clothing, Wraps of  second hand and 13 Jerry cans of 25 litres each of  Nigeria produced red oil   valued at N260,000.00.

Contraband Items, Including Vehicles Seized By Katsina Command

 Also intercepted by the Command Patrol Teams within the period under review were 125 Rolls of Cola Nut worth N165,000.00 and eight Motorcycles  , being means of conveyance used by the smugglers  valued at about N480,000.00. The Command Patrol Teams may not have allowed the Bandits Group ttacks and killing in the state, to frustrate them from doing their job.

Comptroller Wada  had attributed the drop in smuggling activities in the Buhari home in the recent time ‘’to ‘’the restrategised  operation procedures on  the Command anti-smuggling by constant Patrols, surveillance, intelligence gathering, and dissemination. He further stated that the ‘’Co-operation, collaboration and synergy with sister other security agencies at the Jibia Land border post and other stakeholders at the border communities helped greatly to their anti-smuggling operations.

Appealing to the cross-border traders’’ to comply with all import and export guidelines for a seamless importation through the reopened jibia border post’’, he disclosed that it is ‘’the only way  they will stop running into problem with Customs personnel on the road, insisting the Command would not allow it revenue generation drive  to be  sabotaged by any dare-devil smuggler.

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