FROM SEGUN OLATUNJI, ABEOKUTA
Nigeria and Benin Republic yesterday met on the implementation of the protocol of the Economic Community of West African States on the transit of goods between the two countries.
With the agreement between the two countries on implementing the ECOWAS protocol on goods in transit, all second hand vehicles, popularly called “Tokunbo” imported through the neighbouring Benin Republic would henceforth be handed over to Nigerian Customs officials at the borders for the payment of appropriate duty and proper documentation.
The meeting between Nigeria and Benin Republic held just as the Ogun State Command of the Nigerian Customs Service said it has confiscated 18,582 cartons of frozen poultry products in the past three weeks.
The NCS also said that the seized frozen poultry products, which included chicken and turkey had market value of N90million. It said they were confiscated on the Idiroko border as well as from smugglers around the border towns at Imeko, Ajegunle and Ihunbo.
Receiving the Director General of the Benin Republic Customs, Colonel Charles Sezan Sourou at his Idiroko border office, the Customs Area Controller for the Ogun State Command, Comptroller Haruna Mamudu said Nigeria was ready to give the Beninoise customs logistics support in checking the activities of smugglers if only it demonstrates enough commitments to implementing the ECOWAS protocol on transit goods.
Mamudu stated that the NCS Comptroller General recently met his Benin Republic counterpart and signed a Memorandum of Understanding on how the Customs in the two neighbouring countries could assist each other in reducing the spate of smuggling of prohibited goods.
He however expressed regret that earlier efforts made towards implementing the ECOWAS protocol was frustrated by Beninoise customs officials after about one week of its operation.
The customs area controller stated that what Nigeria was interested in was the strict implementation of the agreement reached between the two countries on the ECOWAS protocol on transit.
He warned that the current situation where used vehicles being imported through the sea ports in Benin Republic were not escorted with the manifest and handed over to Nigerian Customs officials at the land borders, contrary to the dictates of the agreement reached on the implementation of the protocol, was not acceptable to Nigeria.
Mamudu further warned that any vehicle confiscated while attempting to evade the payment of duty or being smuggled into the country through illegal means would not be released to its owners.
Earlier, the Benin Republic customs director general who was represented by the country’s Regional Director, Pierre-Claver Tossou gave Nigeria the assurance that the agreement reached between the two countries this time around on the implementation of the ECOWAS transit protocol would be fully implemented.