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FG May Lift Land Border Vehicle Importation Ban — Customs Boss

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The government had in January 2017 ordered a ban on importation of vehicles through the land borders.

The restriction on the importation of vehicles followed that of rice, whose imports through the land borders had been banned since April 2016.

But the government may reconsider its decision after the successful implementation of a new initiative by the Nigeria Customs Service and the Customs Service of the Republic of Benin to automate and network all electronic information about incoming cargoes through the border.

The Comptroller General, NCS, Col Hameed Ali (retd.), who was represented by the Assistant Comptroller, Information and Communication Technology, Benjamin Aber, at a stakeholders’ meeting on the new initiative, expressed confidence that with a successful implementation of the bilateral electronic connectivity programme between Nigeria and Republic of Benin, the Federal Government might lift the ban on items coming through the land border.

Ali said the decision of the government to shut down importation of vehicles through the border was because the government did not have a reliable system that would assist in controlling importation.

With declarations made for imports transiting from either of the countries electronically shared, the process of import and export would be done in a transparent manner and the government seeing such transparency would be convinced to relax its stance on land border importation.

He said “Vehicles were formerly being imported through the Seme border, but suddenly it was banned because the pressure of enforcement of anti-smuggling for vehicles and claiming of lives and revenue were becoming too alarming, so the government had to restrict the importation through Nigerian ports.

“When vehicles came through the land border, we did not have a record of how the imported cars came here and fake documentation became a common phenomenon. The ban was just a control measure against the practice.”

He added, “By the time we successfully deploy this reliable, transparent and predictable programme that would assist government agencies, not only Customs, to control and regulate the importation of vehicles, the government may decide to relax such restrictions.”

Ali said the establishment of the automated platform and bilateral connectivity meant that any truck that left the Republic of Benin, the information would already be remotely sent in English to Nigeria Customs Service system.

He also gave the assurance that illegal checkpoints mounted by Customs officers and other security agencies along the border corridors would disappear automatically.

“The roads also have to be fixed, because we cannot automate clearing of goods between the Customs and at the end, the stakeholders would be complaining,” he pointed out.

He said the new platform would be deployed by June 20.

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Please, don’t handcuff me, convicted ex-gov Kalu begs warders

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Former Abia State Governor, Orji Kalu, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison for fraud, pleaded with officials of the Nigeria Correctional Service not to handcuff him in public.

Kalu, who appeared shaken, said, “Where are you taking us to now? Please don’t handcuff me. I will follow you.”

A short while earlier, Kalu wiped tears from his eyes with a white handkerchief as Justice Idris Mohammed Idris began reading an abridged version of the 228-page judgment, a report by TheNation said.

Kalu’s associate, Udeogu, was sentenced to 10 years in prison while the company, which was used in perpetrating the fraud, Slok Limited, was ordered to be wound up by Justice Mohammed.

The case began in 2007, 12 years ago, when they were first arraigned for the offences but before a different judge.

In an amended 39 counts, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission proved that they conspired and divert N7.65bn from the coffers of the Abia State.

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Senate passes 2020 budget of N10.594 trillion

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Nigerian Senate on Thursday passed the 2020 budget of N10.594 trillion into law.

This is against the proposed budget of N10.33 trillion presented to the joint National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari in October, 2019.

The passage of the budget, however, represents record breaking and a deviation from what was obtained in the 8th National Assembly in which budget were passed almost eight months after it was presented.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Barau Jibrin, said the increase of N264 billion into the budget allowed for interventions in critical areas such as national security, road infrastructure mines and steel development, health among others.

According to him, statutory transfer stood at N560.5 billion, Recurrent Expenditure at N4.8 billion, Capital Expenditure at N2.5 billion, Debt Servicing at N2.7 billion, Fiscal Deficit at N2.3 trillion and Deficit to GDP of 1.52 per cent.

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1,000 Nigerian Shops Shut Down By Ghanians Over Border Closure

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The rising attacks on shops owned by Nigerians in Ghana have escalated since the Federal Government of Nigeria shut its borders, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Ambassador Olufemi Abikoye, has said.

Abikoye said about 1,000 shops owned by Nigerians had been shut as a  retaliation for the border closure which began in August.

The shutting of the shops is being enforced by the Ghana Union of Traders’ Association.

Abikoye said in a statement that there was a need for both Ghana and Nigeria to settle things amicably so as not to destroy the good relationship between both countries.

The statement further read, “It is recalled that there has been ongoing tension between Ghanaian and Nigerian traders of recent, with almost 1,000 shops belonging to Nigerian traders being illegally shut down by the GUTA members.

“The excuse for their action was linked to Nigeria’s temporary closure of its land border and the short-listing of about 45 products from the ECOWAS trade liberalisation scheme, an action which they claimed crippled their trading activities with Nigeria.

“Given the above scenario, it is pertinent to note that such attacks by GUTA which could threaten the national security of both countries and mar bilateral relations may likely continue if drastic steps are not taken by both governments to address the issue amicably.”

He noted that GUTA, on Monday, carried out another round of attacks on Nigerian retailers. The attackers, wielding various weapons, carried out the attacks at Circle Tip Toe Lane, near the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange in Accra, Ghana.

The attack occurred following an attempt by the Nigerians to reopen their shops which were locked on December 1, 2019 by members of GUTA allegedly using operatives of the Ghana Police Force.

This led to a clash between the two sides.

The high commissioner said in a bid to ensure the safety of lives and property of the Nigerian traders, the commission swiftly contacted the Ghana Police Force to come to their rescue by mobilising sufficient personnel to disarm the invading attackers as well as restoring peace and normalcy in the area.

Abikoye also sought the intervention of various Ghanaian establishments to ensure that the illegally locked shops were immediately opened.

He noted, however, that the shops were under lock and key as the situation was a bit tense.

The commissioner said though no live was lost during the incidence, seven arrests were made, four of who are Nigerians: Uche Onwurah, Chizoba Onwurah, Abuchi Kenneth, Onyekachi Iheoma and Darlington Logo, and three Ghanaians.

The statement read further that the District Police Commander, Nima Police Station, ACP Abraham Acquaye, had advised that the shops should remain locked for possible dialogue to take place.

In the aftermath of the attacks, an Executive member of GUTA, Mr Eric Gumfi, in a press statement on Monday, further threatened that GUTA would continue with the closure of all shops belonging to foreigners in ensuring the GIPC Act was enforced.

Meanwhile, there is ongoing dialogue between the High Commissioner and the Ghanaian Government functionaries on the best way to permanently put the situation under control.

But the House of Representatives has condemned the attacks on Nigerian traders in Ghana, saying it is a transfer of aggression by Ghanaians over the closure of Nigeria’s land borders.

The House, at the plenary on Wednesday, urged the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to investigate the attacks.

The House also mandated the Committees on Diaspora Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and Treaties, Protocols and Agreements to “consider and investigate the recent developments among traders in Ghana and ensure that another xenophobic attack on Nigerians is prevented.”

The move followed the unanimous adoption of a motion sponsored by the Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, titled ‘Recent attacks on Nigerian Traders in Circle Market, Ghana.’

Moving the motion, Akande-Sadipe recalled that on Sunday, over 600 shops belonging to foreign traders, particularly Nigerians, at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Ghana, were locked up by members of GUTA.

The lawmaker said, “The House is concerned that the recent attack on Nigerian traders would become another xenophobic attack with loss of lives, as GUTA have decided to take laws into their own hands because, according to them, the government had failed to enforce the GIPC Law 865 Articles 27 and 28, which bars foreigners from doing retail business in Ghana.”

Several lawmakers who seconded the motion warned against another xenophobic attack on Nigerians in Ghana as being experienced in South Africa.

 

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