By GODWIN ORITSE
For ease of shipment from country to country, the Nigeria Customs Service has commenced a new vehicle transit regime for automobiles being imported into the country from neighbouring countries like Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic beginning with Benin Republic and Seme Border as area of pilot implementation.
The new policy which is a fall out of a March 26, 2014 meeting of Directors-General of Customs of the five proximate countries held in Abuja, and in line with the Transit Code, will see all Nigerian bound vehicles imported from the affected countries being handed over to the Nigerian Customs by the country’s customs administration after due clearance.
The scheme which has features of accountability, transparency and easy personal evaluation and monitoring will have names of officers responsible for transfers and receipts of manifests/vehicles from both countries . It will also indicate location of formal handing and taking over of imported vehicles on transit
Speaking at a ceremony to flag off the scheme, Willy Egbudin, Customs Area Controller of Seme Command, applauded the untiring efforts of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Abdullahi Dikko Inde, CFR for his vision and high level professionalism in bringing the scheme to fruition.
According to Egbudin, regional security, facilitation of genuine trade and improving on the existing synergies between Nigeria Customs and other customs administrations sharing common borders with the country are expected to be enhanced under the new regime.
He added that It will lead to an interstate effort in the fight against smuggling and boost the revenue being generated from vehicle importation into Nigeria.
The flag-off ceremony which was conducted by the Nigerian Ambassador to Benin Republic, Ambassador Lawrence Olufemi Obisakin and witnessed by officials of government agencies of Nigeria and Benin as well as stakeholders was ushered in with some fanfare.
Obisakin said that the feat is also being achieved because of the fraternal tie between President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of Nigeria and his Beninoise counterpart, Yayi Boni has become stronger adding that the bilateral relations can only get better.
Obisakin added that the event is not just special but also a great milestone for countries governments, business men and entire citizenry. He said the importance of such an epoch making event cannot be over emphasized as history, according to him was being made.
‘’The official handover of imported vehicles by the Benin Customs Service to their Nigerian counterpart represents the palpable results of several years of bilateral relations’’
For this we have to thank God for the friendly and fraternal relations existing between President Goodluck Jonathan and his Benin Counterpart, President Boni Yayi as well as the diplomatic and customs services of both countries’’ Obisakin said.
Responding to questions from newsmen, the ambassador said that Seme border is strategic for many reasons including being sited between two commercial capital cities of Cotonou and Lagos, which makes it the busiest land border in West African sub region.
‘’This is a further demonstration of our status as the number one economy in Africa with a drive towards industrialization and reaching to other countries in the sub region through Benin Republic.’’ Obisakin said.
Customs at Seme border and Benin Republic will have an important role in getting industrialized goods shipped from Nigeria to other West African countries, the Ambassador added.