·CRFFN Says Customs Should Be Properly Equipped
The Chairman, Ports Consultative Council, Otunba Kunle Folarin has said that daily informal trade through the land borders into Nigeria exceeds $2million.
Folarin also said that Nigeria provides indirect foreign exchange for those countries that take goods and services into Nigeria.
Folarin said this on Thursday in Lagos during a freight forwarders’ perspective and interactive session on the Federal Government land border closure, organised by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
Delivering the key note speech, Folarin said that the essence of the session is to interact with those who are affected by the closure.
"We are here to talk on the border closure because of those who were affected, we feel that we should revisit the issue. And the border should be opened and if it is not opened, there must be some framework that should be done because of the future"
He nevertheless reiterated the need for reformation of the administration of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
He maintained that Nigeria shouldn't wait until it gets to the level of adopting damage control as according to him, closing the land borders is a damage control.
"We must not wait until there is crisis before we do damage control, closing the border is largely damage control and we must avoid that in other to make sure that Nigeria prospers by taking due attention to what we do", he advised.
Also speaking, the Registrar of CRFFN, Barrister Samuel Nwakohu, appealed that customs officers needed to be properly equipped.
He pleaded with the government to open the borders for ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme(ETLS)-complaint goods.
"They should open the border for the following reasons, the freight forwarders are in no way encouraging criminality. But they are of the view that ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme(ETLS)-complaint goods should be allowed to go through"
"They (freight forwarders) are of the view that what went wrong or what is going wrong at the borders are as a result of system failure, especially on the part of the NCS"
"They are of the view that customs should be better equipped, better trained and should adopt global best practice"
Speaking further, he said, "They are of the view that compliance should be adhered to on the protocol of agreement in the West African region. So these were some of the resolutions that we have reached during the session. And they are appealing to the federal government to please reconsider and open the borders because legitimate businessmen are suffering"
Nwakohu said that some people who have borrowed money to do business are finding it difficult to pay back.
He however urged the government to reopen the borders, even as he called for a tighter security.
"Some people who had borrowed money and invested it have turned to water because their goods cannot come in and they can't pay their loans", he lamented.
"So the federal government should please reconsider opening the borders, but tighten security. The council will send representations and write to them to look into it that is why we are a regulatory agency"
"The federal government has put us there(CRFFN) to look into all these, so if they have a complaint, it is our responsibility to take their complaint to the government", he concluded.