By Innocent Anaba
Trans-Border Traders Association of Nigeria, TBTAN, an umbrella body of importers and traders at Seme and Idiroko Borders, has denied a recent media report that smuggling is carried out â€œas open business at both border stations.â€
TBTAN in a statement by Alhaji M.Okunola, weekend, said: â€œThe publication by a national daily entitled â€˜Seme, Idiroko border, smuggling now open businessâ€™ is unfounded, false and does not reflect the true position of business activities within the Seme and Idiroko borders axisâ€.
The association affirmed that â€œthe publication was untrue, partially spurious, clearly unsupported and completely devoid of merit.â€
TBTAN noted that, it was a genuine association with responsibility of carrying out importing and exporting of goods allowed under Customs and Exercise Management Act, CEMA, adding: â€œWe are also duly involved in ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme, ETLS, and its activities as regulated by the customs law.
â€œOrdinarily, we would not have join issues with any media organisation or hold brief for smugglers, customs or security agencies, but as a result of the offensive publication which seems to put genuine traders at the border in bad light, we wish to state that our members involveÂ in the business of imports/exports through Seme and Idiroko borders with documentary evidence to support our trading activities within the mentioned land borders.â€
â€œOur members have contributed immensely to the economic growth of the country by generating revenue for the Federal Government and hence we are in no way connected with smuggling. Some pictures of trucks shown in the publications belong to our members who had paid the required duties and necessary levies on the imported goods, which are legal and were duly examined and due clearing process followed without influence whatsoeverâ€.
The association exonerate its membersÂ from any activities relating to smuggling or organised crime that may jeopardize the interest of the country.
â€œOur duty is to promote healthy business relationship with government agencies for the overall economic and security interest of Nigerian, hence the purported publication is offensive and attempt to blackmail, raise false alarm with intention to cause business dislocation within Seme/Idiroko axisâ€.
The association explainedÂ that its members are involved in the importation of rice through Seme border, adding that â€œthere are documentary evidence of payment of duties to support our members transactions. Trade worldwide is about genuine competition, any form of monopoly should be discouragedâ€.
The association noted that majority of its members with little financial capability enjoy patronage with importers of rice through Republic of Benin when compared with direct importation through Nigerian Ports that requires huge sum of money.
â€œThe claims by the Rice Importers, Millers and Distribution Association of Nigeria over rice smuggling through Seme and IdirokoÂ cannot be associated with genuine transaction as exhibited in the publicationâ€ the association added.