By Godfrey Bivbere
Following the agreement between the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and its Benin Republic counterpart in October last year, the level of smuggling through the borders into the country has greatly reduced, shooting up revenue collectable from such goods, Customs Area Controller (CAC) of Seme Area Command, .Toba G Aliu, has said.
Aliu who spoke in Lagos recently, said the agreement was as a result of the complain the Comptroller General of the NCS, who decried Benin Customs authorityâ€™s unrestricted access of dutiable Nigerian bound cargo into the country, thereby coursing the nation to loss collectable duty on such goods.
With the agreement however, the Customs boss noted that their counterpart had been sending imported rice and vehicles bound for the Nigerian market to Seme Customs command to enable the NCS to collect the relevant duties.
According to Aliu, â€œIt is rewarding to note that the command had generated huge revenue from the clearance of imported motor vehicles and rice since the revenue from these sources would have been lost to the smugglers if the NCS has not reached an agreement with the Beninoise.â€
The Seme Customs boss said that the command collected a total of N372,581,155.00 from imported motor vehicles and N519,260,460.00 from imported rice between October last year and last month.
The breakdown showed that the Area Command raked in N68,016,920.00, N87, 656,736.00, N71,176,946.00, N85,730,558.00 and about N60 million from imported motor vehicles in October, November, December, January and February respectively.
While the sum of N46,843,552.00, N57,253,202.00, N140,584,851.00, N165,086,331.00 and N109,492,524.00 was gotten as levy collected from imported rice through the border in October, November, December, January and February respectively.
He also said that the Command recorded a total of 372 seizures valued at over N541million in 2009.The Seme Customs boss said that the government warehouse at Seme is filled to its brim as a result of the seizures.
Alliu noted that government has also commenced moves to construct a bigger warehouse with a view to accommodating more seizure.
He stated that the tightening of the anti-smuggling noose necessitated the Beniniose Government to visit officials of the Nigeria Customs at its headquarters in Abuja to seek bilateral cooperation with Nigeria.
The Command boss also stated that the management of the NCS alsoÂ intimated their Beniniose counterparts to ensure that dutiable goods destined for Nigeria are properly channelled through approved border posts.
â€œOne of the gains of that bilateral co-operation was the request of the CG to his Beniniose counterpart to ensure that dutiable goods destined for Nigeria are properly channelled through approved border posts, which was grantâ€œSubsequently, dutiable goods such as motor vehicles, rice etc are channelled under escort from Cotonou port to Seme border for proper clearance into Nigeria.
â€œIt is rewarding to note that the Command had generated huge revenue from the clearance of imported motor vehicles and rice since then, the revenue from these sources would have been lost to smugglers if the NCS had not reached an agreement with the Beniniose,â€ he added