Border Crime: Customs,The Need For Regional Integration

From -R,Compt Uba (4th)

With a sheer determination to end border crimnalties and illegalities going on at the Atlas Park at Seme border, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Seme Command has disclosed the readiness of the command to end all the atrocities going on at Atlas Park, Seme, Badagry, Lagos.

It was said also that everything about Atlas Park, a park  at the Seme joint border between Nigeria and Republic of Benin at Seme represents illegality and criminality.

It was however, based on these reasons that the present Customs Area Controller (CAC) of Seme Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Comptroller Mohammed Uba Garba has announced strigent measures to shut down the Park over alleged illegalities.

According to the CAC during a meeting with members of the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders Nigeria (AREFFN), who paid him a courtesy visit in his Seme office on Friday, the Atlas Park in operation at Benin Republic was against the international law of transit.

He assured the association the reason he was determined to shut down the park, even if he has only one day remaining to serve at the Command  before he leaves.

To him, building alternative wall around the park will end the saga: ” It was at this instance that I am building a wall to block the illegal park. I have received complains when I came here from our Nigerian counterparts, apart from not respecting the law, it is the Beniniose that are engaged in the economic activities at that park, that the Beniniose authority has refused to respect the pact, it was at this instance that I gave them deadline which ends on 31st of December. I told the Ambassador, I communicated the Customs high command, their DG had to come here, we had meeting with him and I told him there is no going back.

“Our Nigerian counterparts could not meet the deadline, they came here babbling, asking me to extend the deadline and I said no way, they have to get it right and that was what they did. I gave them up to 1st of February, that this place is going to be blocked”.

Comptroller Uba who explained what the Seme Atlas Park represents, further stated: ”The essence of the joint border post is for integration, cooperation and to integrate the local economy. Even yesterday, I went on sensitization, I went to Owode, I have spoken with the Chairman of the local government to check this, even the market women, we have had several meetings with them. Other security agencies who are against the closure of that place, I have sensitized them, I have spoken to them, I have given them advice on way things should be done.

“Free movement of persons, services and goods must be enforced in this border. It is the European concept, managed by ECOWAS, this place belongs to neither Nigeria nor to Benin, they handed over this building to us, I am the Chairman, the Benin Customs woman is the co-Chairperson. So, we are the people to make sure that the law is enforced”.

The CAC enumerated the disadvantages of the closing the Atlas Park to Nigerian agents to include ending the existing  illegalities at the park and adding to the lack of the needed spaces for their loads.

The Comptroller, however pointed out that he had provided them with alternative means and a temporary park on Customs land, that it is only for them to cooperate and work with them, and that working in conjunction with Customs in making sure that transit goods were directly handed over to them and escorted by the Customs and then the next Customs administration receives it saying that on that basis, a lot of Nigerians will get work to do, more revenue would be generated, there would be security and there will be control.

Mohammed Uba at the end thanked the visiting freight forwarders for coming assuring them that even if he has only one day remaining before leaving the Command that he will complete the project before leaving.

”So, it is on this note that I said that you have come at the right time; this is a mission and that is what I want to complete even if I am leaving today. So, we want you to help us to sensitize your people. Other security agencies are not happy because of the reason of corruption. For how long are we going to continue to be corrupt? There must be an end in sight. Even if we are not going to end corruption during our time, in no distance future, even if it is not eliminated in totality, it will be reduced to the barest minimum”, he assured them.

Reacting to the issue of his own management and control of temporary park provided by the Customs, as earlier raised by the Chairman of AREFFN, Seme chapter, the CAC again said,” For the control and management of the park, customs is in charge, it is for temporary usage. I am not the government but what is fundamental is making sure that this illegality has to stop. This is our internal problem; let us finish with external problem before we talk of the internal ones. I have told the DC Admin to sit.

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