Border Closure: Customs rakes in N6b daily

Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd)
Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd)

Nigeria rakes in between N5 billion and N6 billion daily from imports since the closure of its land borders with neighbouring countries.

Prior to the closure in August 2019, daily duty collections hovered between N4 billion and N5 billon, said the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) in Lagos on Tuesday.

The NCS Comptroller-General Col. Hammed Ali (retd.) attributed the rise to increased activities at the nation’s seaports.

”The NCS daily collection before the border closure ranged between N4 to N5 billion but now, the NCS collects N5billion to N6 billion daily as a result of the rise in activities at the nation’s sea ports,” Ali said on Tuesday at a forum on the “impact of land border closure on the Nigerian economy.”

Deal of the day

The forum was organized by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), and the support of Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) in Lagos.

The Customs boss, who was represented by the ACG/Zonal Co-ordinator, Zone A, KayCee Ekekezie, also said the border closure had led to a 30 per cent drop in fuel hitherto supplied by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for local consumption.

He added that the sums being realized from the ports would help the Federal Government provide more infrastructures and add fillip to critical sectors of the economy.

“This (money) will be used to build more infrastructure  and develop critical sectors of the nation’s economy. The border drill has also curbed the diversion of petroleum products from Nigeria to our neighboring countries. NNPC records show a 30 per cent drop in fuel consumption, which means that we have been subsidizing fuel for neighboring countries.”

Ali also stated that before the border closure, NCS had engaged the customs of neighboring countries severally, drawing their attention to the need to comply with ECOWAS protocols on transit of goods and persons.

He said: “The protocol demands that when a transit container berths at a seaport, the receiving country is mandated to escort same without tampering with the seal to the border of the destination country.

”Unfortunately, experience has shown that our neighbours do not comply with the protocol, rather they break the seals of containers on transit to Nigeria at their ports and transload the goods in open trucks    which belongs to their country. The trucks will in turn make entry into Nigeria and trans load same onto Nigerian trucks.”

The President of LCCI, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, said the border closure has had positive and negative implications for the economy.

“We have seen appreciable increase in domestic rice and poultry products production and decrease in   fuel smuggling to neighboring countries. The directive paid off for the NCS as revenue generated by the agency increased to N1.34 trillion in 2019 from N1.2 trillion in 2019” she said.

On the flip side, she said, the closure has triggered inflationary pressures through rising food prices.She added  that   food inflation continues to uptrend, hitting a record 14.7 per cent in December 2019, the highest in 20 months.

She said the policy had also led to unplanned losses for manufacturers, especially those who export their products by road.

The Advisor, Borderless Alliance, Mr. Caleb Omoyiola, said the   policy had resulted in increased internally generated revenue, rise in consumption of local products and reduction in smuggling.

On the negative side, according to him, is a breach of ECOWAS protocols/rules of integration and   free movement of persons, goods and transport within the region.

Meanwhile, the Comptroller-General, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mr Muhammad Babandede, has said that only President Muhammadu Buhari could determine when the borders would reopen.

Babandede spoke at a news conference on NIS infrastructural projects validation and execution nationwide on in Abuja yesterday.

He said: “The borders are partially closed and this is in line with the ECOWAS rules where you must have valid travel documents.

“You must enter through legal routes and with valid documents and not illegally.”

Babandede emphasised that the visa on arrival policy was not at variance with the border drills, saying that the increase in the number of visas from six to 79 was to enable appropriate endorsement based on request.

He said that it was also to cover wide range of professions, skills, and areas of expertise and a platform for reciprocating in line with diplomatic practices globally.

“The visa is not free, payment is done online. Biometric capture is carried out at the point of issuance and due diligence is observed in a manner that will not compromise national security and in line with International best practices,” he added.