The Value News

Customs: AUDA-NEPAD Delegates On One Stop JBP, Gather In Ghana For A week Workshop

By Stephen Ubanna

Officials of the  European Union, World Bank,,Japan International Cooperation Agency, JICA ,and New Partnership for African Development, NEPAD   can now  heave a sigh of relief that the One  Stop Joint Border Post, JBP, at  Seme-Krake  and Noepe -Akanu have taken off.

 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.

Uba .G. Muhammed: Compt. Seme Command Nominated To Be At AUDA-NEPAD Meeting At Ghana.

 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 April , had been attributed to the channeling of transit and ETLS cargoes from the diroko Border  by the Customs Headquarter to the the approved Seme-Krake JBP,  thus, reducing Michael Agbara, Comptroller of Ogun Command source of revenue generation for the Command forcing him to concetrate on anti-smuggling operations in Ogun Command.

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