TEN of the Benin Republic Customs are extorting Nigerian businessmen and agents at Seme border and also subjecting them to multiple duty payments, which violates the Economic Community of West African States (EECOWAS) treaty.
Some importers, who don’t want their names mentioned, told our correspondent that cargoes billed for Nigeria from Benin Republic are now being subjected to multiple duty payment by the Beninoise Customs. “Besides, they collect extra charges of between N80, 000 and N100, 000, which are not receipted just to get our cargoes and trucks to the Nigerian side of the border,” the businessmen said.
But under ECOWAS treaty, trucks conveying goods from Benin Republic to Nigeria are designated as transit goods, which ordinarily should attract minimal duty having satisfied the import regulation law of Benin Republic but the customs ignore this.
The importers said the problem arose as a result of the ECOWAS joint development project sponsored by the European Union (EU), which has forced the Nigeria Customs Service, Seme command and other security agencies around the border to relocate their offices to the Nigeria end of the border.
The relocation was necessitated by the plan to demolish the ECOWAS building, which hitherto accommodated the security agencies, such as the Immigration, Customs, Port Health, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and other security agencies.