By Godwin Oritse
THERE are indications that the trans-border trade agreement between Nigeria and Benin Republic is being threatened following the incessant molestation of officers of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, by their Beninese counterpart as well as violation of the agreement. Customs Area Controller, Seme Command, Mohammed Aliyu, stated this when he addressed members of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) who paid him a courtesy visit.
Comptroller Aliyu alleged that customs officers, importers and clearing agents are constantly being harassed by Benin Republic customs, while some hoodlums, popularly called ‘kelebe’ extort money from traders, all in violation of the trans-border agreement signed between both countries in 2003.
Following the disagreement, he said that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved that the Customs should vacate the popular truck park, ‘Atlas Park’, belonging to Benin Republic while another truck park, amounting to N300 million, should be constructed on the Nigerian side of the border.
According to him, few months after the agreements were signed, “it was abandoned and nobody cared to look at or fight about it, and Nigeria is losing.
“Benin Republic’s economy largely depends on the Nigerian economy for survival, yet they do not realize the importance of that. Despite this fact, they still look down on us.
“A place whereby an importer would import and pay all the dues, and yet he is still molested because it is their own land. Despite the trade agreement, they violate the accord by unlocking sealed containers destined for Nigeria, this is unacceptable,” he said.
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