Saturday 22 June 2019

West Africa: EU Supports Nigeria, Beninoise Customs With N8.1 Billion Scanner

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The effort to facilitate trade and speedy clearance of cargo in Nigeria's busiest land border will be revved up soon as the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and its Beninoise counterpart have taken delivery of a new cargo scanning machine donated by the European Union (EU) at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) joint border post, Seme-Krake.

Valued at about N8.1 billion, the scanner is said to be an upgrade on the old fixed scanner at the cost of N3.54 billion and installed by the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA) in 2013.

Addressing journalists at the border post, the Controller, Seme Area Command of the NCS, Comptroller Muhammed Uba, said the scanner, which is currently being test-run, would be maintained by ECOWAS for two years.

He said Customs officers of both countries have been trained on how to read images from the scanner, stating that when operational, it would facilitate trading activities at the border post.

He said with the deployment of the scanner, Customs would only subject goods to physical examination only when in doubt of scanned image.

"Officers have been trained; both Benin and Nigeria Customs Service along with other agencies who are on the stage in the cargo clearance process. The scanner is bought by the European Union for both Nigeria and Benin. All types of trucks will be passing through the scanner and officers who have been trained will read the images and whatever is inside the truck, the officers will know. In any case where the image is not clear, the truck will be subjected to 100 per cent physical examination," he said.

Meanwhile, he has announced the seizure of 175 pieces of textiles materials worth N2.2 million smuggled into the country from Benin Republic.

Mohammed, who paraded the items at Seme border, also said the Command generated the sum of N2.62 billion from March till date, while intensified operations by the enforcement unit have drastically reduced smuggling activities to the barest minimum.

Mohammed said about 8,304 bags of 50kg foreign rice, which is equivalent to over 14 trucks load of rice worth N89 million were also seized, while another 71 cartons of expired food seasonings worth N458,109, and 336 cartons of alcoholic drinks worth N5 million were intercepted during the period.

Others are, "31 X 25litres Jerry Cans of vegetable oil worth N269,911; 35 X 50kg Bags of sugar, N444,785; 138 x 25litres of PMS, worth N212,100 and 71 Cartons of Expired Food Seasonings worth N458,109. 175 pieces of 6 Yards of Textiles worth N2.24million, 15 sacks of used clothes N677,486 and 28 cartons of Medicament, N1,083,978 and 410 sacks of School bags worth N13.2million. Also, 2,000 cartons of Expired Biscuits, N7,742,700 and another truck loaded with 493 packs of Baby Diapers worth N4.1million, "he said.

Mohammed also disclosed that "1,582 parcels of Cannabis Sativa found concealed in an Indomie truck; and another notable arrest of 55 parcels of same Cannabis Sativa concealed in a Sienna bus. A total of 1,686 parcels were arrested (with street value worth of over N30 million) for the period under review.

"As part of our community service, the Customs Comptroller General, directed that a total of 25,000 bags of foreign parboiled rice (equivalent of 42 trailer trucks), 650 bags of Sugar, 150 cartons of tin tomato, 150 bags of flour, and 250 kegs of vegetable oil were transferred to the Nigeria Army Corps of Supply and Transport (NACST) between the month of April and May, for onward delivery to Yobe State Government, Damaturu for distribution to IDPs in the state.

"A total of 11 vehicles have also been seized notable among them are Toyota Highlander (2005), Range Rover (2007), Toyota Rav 4 (2006), Toyota Venza (2010) and others with combined duty paid value of N46.1million" he stated, adding that six suspects were arrested during the period under review."

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