Mr Sam Maduike, a major auto dealer at the Seme Border, near Badagry, on Wednesday pleaded with the Federal Government to lift the ban on the importation of vehicles through the nation’s land borders.
Maduike, who is the Managing Director of Sam Express Cargoes, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the ban had negatively affected economic activities at the Seme border.
“This issue should be treated as a matter of urgency because the ban has caused the Federal Government to lose a lot of revenue from the border areas.
“The Seme Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) generated only N234.2 million as revenue for the month of April and their target for that month was N1.1 billion. You can imagine the negative effect that the ban is having on earnings for the NCS.
“There is, however, no doubt in my mind that the ban has only increased smuggling activities as cars that are usually bought in from Cotonou are now diverted through other borders and they still ultimately find their way into Nigeria.
“Cars are smuggled into the country through many other routes. So the Federal Government is still losing from both sides because duty is not paid and the vehicles that are supposed to be banned are still coming into the country.
“The Federal Government should reconsider its stance on this ban because it has impacted negatively on the economy of the nation,’’ he said.
Maduike also dismissed claims that the smuggling of rice was on the increase in Seme.
“People always claim that smuggling of rice is on the increase in Seme but that is just a way to deflect attention from the real things that are happening.
“People spread fake news so as to divert the attention of the government from Seme, while they use other border posts to ferry the rice into the country.
“We are planning to protest in respect of this, so as to inform the authorities that some groups of smugglers have declared a press war in the area,’’ he said.
In a similar tone, Alhaji Bisiriyu Danu, the chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Seme Chapter, noted that the ban has had a negative impact on the economic activities at the Seme border.
He added that Customs agents have being deeply affected by the ban on the importation of vehicles through the land borders.
“The ban has effectively crippled activities at the border and this has had a negative effect on the economy of the nation.
“The government should reconsider this ban because it has brought unwanted hardship to the poor masses and added to the unemployment woes of the nation,’’ he said.
Investigations carried out by NAN revealed that cars are still being smuggled into the country from Cotonou through Idi-Iroko.
Also, the smugglers have also diverted their activities to routes in Kwara State.
A smuggler who simply identified himself as `Sango,’ told NAN that the Idi-Iroko route was straight forward, with less stress.
“Since the ban on the importation of vehicles through the land borders, the NCS officers at Seme have intensified their efforts in enforcing the law, so we no longer use that route.
“We prefer to go through Idi-Iroko because it is more straightforward and the terrain isn’t so difficult, as it is easier to ply that route.
“Apart from that, we now also go through some routes in Kwara State, so there is always a way to bring in the cars into the country,’’ he added. (NAN)