The Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria, FACAN, Tuesday, alleged that border closure and reopening indict the Nigeria Customs Service.
This was stated by the President, FACAN, Dr Victor Iyama, in a telephone chat with Vanguard, while speaking on the impact the reopening of major land borders may cause members of the association engaged in various agricultural value chains.
According to Iyama, with so much the country is spending to man the land borders, smuggling still thrives, and queried that government is saying of closing borders at the same time instead of sanitizing security agencies with statutory mandates to secure the borders.
FACAN is the apex and umbrella body of all Agricultural Commodity Associations in the country, comprising 55 registered Commodity Associations along the value chain that has over the years contributed greatly to the economic growth of the country through the generation of foreign exchange to the economy from Non-Oil Export Exchange proceeds.
He said: “For me, I see government just bow to pressure to reopen the borders, and moreover, because of the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA.
“So basically I think that may have been the main reason government has to reopen the borders but we believe that if Nigerian Customs Service is up to their duty there is no reason to have closed the borders.
So I believe that with the coming of AfCFTA and reopening of the borders the Nigerian Customs Service must be called to book. They must face the music because in actual fact they did that as a short time measure, but really it is an indictment on Customs and other government officials at the borders because when people are sent and paying so much manning the borders and they are not manning the borders, and the government is closing borders.
“For instance, when China closed their borders they did purposefully not to allow importation, for we can’t say our borders were closed because after all the ports receive goods but in China they don’t receive anything it was basically to develop their own internal economy. But in our own case, it was to stem smuggling which I said it is a big indictment on Customs and other security agents.”
He also added that “If you ban things and placed in their proper perspectives, and if you want to import things take it through the right channel and pay the appropriate duties.
“They have already put duties that will discourage importation of some goods but if they want to do they should pay through their nose and take it through the ports, and I believe that is going to happen now because if not and they allow smuggling of rice.
“And of course it will affect us as FACAN members and it will, but I am sure, we are watching, let us see, with the opening of the borders and this AfCFTA thing let see how it works.”
Vanguard News Nigeria