The Nigeria Customs Service has snubbed the directive of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) concerning the release of goods worth about N400Million that were trapped at the Seme border as a result of the border closure.
Although the directive was given about two weeks ago, investigations by our correspondent revealed that the goods are still held-up at the border.
Shipping Position Daily recalls that the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Seme border chapter had in a letter to the National Security Adviser (NSA); Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd) appealed for the release of the goods trapped at Seme border, the association had argued that import duty had been paid on the affected goods before the abrupt border closure more than one year ago.
On the strength of the appeal, Major General E.A. Ndagi on behalf of the National Security Adviser, in a letter dated 13th November 2020 and addressed to the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, directed the Customs to facilitate release of the affected goods being cleared by ANLCA members.
The letter reads in part, “I am directed to respectfully refer to letter NCS/INV711/020/ABJ/HQ dated 9th November 2020 and to convey the National Security Adviser’s approval for the release of goods held up at Seme border due to the ongoing partial border closure.
“The goods are being cleared by the Association of the Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) as detailed at Enclosure 1. Accordingly, the Nigeria Customs Service is kindly requested to facilitate the release in line with extant regulations.”
However, two weeks after the approval was given, the directive is yet to be complied with, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has even denied receipt of any such letter.
Speaking with our correspondent recently, the Chairman of the ANLCA Seme chapter, Mr Lasisi Fanu said the Nigeria Customs Service is yet to release the affected goods. that were trapped at the border. He stated that the Customs told the association that, there is no directive to that effect and as such the goods will not be released.
“They (Customs) said they were yet to receive any directive to that effect, so the goods are still there, maybe when they receive the directive, they will begin to allow our goods in” he said.
Also speaking with our correspondent, the Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Seme command, Mr Hussein Abdullahi also informed that the command was yet to receive any directive to release the goods.
“They’ve not given us directive, when the directive comes, we will allow them in, but now we are yet to receive any directive”, he said.
When contacted, the National Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service; Mr Joseph Attah also denied knowledge of the NSA’s letter.
But when the content of the letter was read to him, he told our correspondent that it would be difficult for him to respond to something “I don’t know about”.
“You know I can’t respond to something I don’t know about, you are the one reading for me now, I don’t know the letter, but if such a letter exists and it is with Seme (Command), it will be good if you go to Seme”.
When informed that the letter was addressed to the CG of Customs, he insisted that this reporter should go to Seme, and when informed that the reporter had already gone to Seme, he requested for more time.