By Eguono Odjegba
THE National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA, has written to President Mohammadu Buhari to consider allowing goods trapped at the Seme Border following the partial closure of the nation’s borders, into the country.
NCMDLCA said about 500 trucks of goods valued at N3.5 billion was involved in the trapped consignments.
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The Council noted that these consignments were legally imported as transit goods with legal documentation and duty paid on them.
In the letter signed by the National President of NCMDLCA, Lucky Amewiro, pointed out that most of the goods were covered under the import clearance procedure.
The letter read in part, “We hereby appeal for the Federal Government intervention on goods held up at the borders in which most of the goods are covered under import clearance procedure.
“They have obtained Form M, issued with Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) paid import duty and have undergone transit clearance in line with the Import guideline covered under Section 3 of the Pre-shipment Inspection Act that authorized the process.
“Some of the goods held up at the border are legal originating goods from third country covered under common External Tariff, that had been subjected to legal import guideline procedures, with some of the goods issued, with Form M, import duty paid made while awaiting normal exit clearance to assess Nigerian corridor.
“At the time of most importation and process of the held up goods at the border, there was no circular restricting the goods held up, which was done almost immediately.
“The closure should have been backed by a circular to the trading public before the closure, so as to comply with Section 18 of the Customs and Excise Management Act C 45 of 2004, the (WCO) Kyoto Convention Chapter 9 and WTO Article X, which address trade information in advance, these should have eliminated the present difficulties experience by the trading public on the held up goods at the borders.
“Furthermore, most goods that are still at the border are on the top of the trailers accruing demurrages and rent in the port at the country of transit, after obtaining Form M and shipment is expected to transit to Nigeria.
“We hereby appeal as a member of the Presidential and Ministerial Committee on Customs Reform, Destination Inspection Committee, Import Clearance Procedures etc; as we feel concerned for the huge loss that is occasioned by the immediate closure.
“While we are not contesting the fact that a lot of unwholesome practice exist at the border we appeal to the Federal Government to look into the complexities of the closure and address legitimate importers/ Licensed Customs Agent to relieve them of the present burden of cost and save life.’’
Recall that owners of some of the consignments have died following pressure from their banks over loans obtained to import the goods presently trapped at the border.