BORDER CLOSURE: Customs Officers Lament Joblessness, Seek Redeployment

Customs officers operating at the Seme and Idiroko borders have been lamenting what they called ‘inactivity’ owing to the closure of the land borders more than one year ago.

This is even as investigation has shown that some of the customs officers are already seeking redeployment from the border post to other command, because of the stoppage of ‘daily income’ that the officers have been used to, before the closure of the land borders.

In a chat with one of our correspondents, a custom officer who pleaded anonymity for obvious reasons, lamented that it is not only the importers and exporters that are suffering as a result of the impact of the border closure, but that customs officers as well as immigration officers, quarantine service officers and the Nigeria Police are all in the same shoes, due to inactivity at the two borders.

He confided in our correspondent that before the closure of the land borders, custom officers at the Seme custom border who mount check points rake-in between N10, 000 and N50,000 daily, depending on rank.

According to him, “it is not only the exporters that are lamenting, even officers here are also lamenting, activities have been crippled and if you visit, you will discover there is nothing much the officers are doing, even the Immigration and the Quarantine officers, everybody is lamenting’.

“But what can we do, nothing; we are only praying that they listen to the people and open the borders, I can tell you that, before now at least a junior officer takes home N10, 000 on a daily basis, while senior customs officers can go home with close to N50, 000 daily, but all that has changed now, we can only hope that things will fall back in place”, lamented.

Also speaking, one of the customs officers at the Idiroko border command, confirmed that officers at the command have been left idle due to the closure of the borders, while informing that some of them have started making plans to seek redeployment to other commands.

“That’s the truth, we are not happy that activities have dropped, some of us are idle; in fact, some have started making plans for redeployment, because we are not sure if truly the borders will be opened” he said.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed recently disclosed that land borders will be reopened soon. She revealed that the presidential committee set up to look into the matter has completed its assignment and has recommended the reopening of the borders.

Although the minister did not disclose when the report will be submitted, she, however, said the committee would soon submit its report to President Muhammadu Buhari after which a formal pronouncement would be made on the matter.