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Border closure: Shippers’ Council says Nigeria not benefiting from ECOWAS protocol

Hassan Bello, executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), has said that rather than benefit from the ECOWAS protocol, Nigeria has become a victim.   

Speaking in Lagos at the weekend during the stakeholders’ meeting held to proffer solutions and way forward to the partial border closure, Bello said Nigeria is a nation that respects laws, agreement and treaties but unfortunately, it is not the case for our neighbouring countries.

Bello, who called for a review of the protocol, said if Nigeria continues to allow the lawlessness in international trade to happen, the country will be in trouble as jobs will continue to be exported.

“We cannot depend on import alone. It is about time we try to export for us not to perish. We must insist on our rights as a country with regard to international trade and ascend to the letters of agreement,” he said.

According to him, the Council is more concerned about what is happening at the ports after the partial closure of the land borders.

He pointed out that the border closure had caused pain on Nigerians but was necessary as government was sourcing means of revenue diversification, the maritime economy was next to be trapped into.

Kunle Folarin, chairman, Ports Consultative Council (PCC), called for a strategic planning and implementation of outcome of the meeting, adding that there should be compliance with the trade protocols.

“Nigeria is signatory to up to 13-protocol and treaties on so many subjects but unfortunately they are not complying with it. The country must also strike trade alliances with counterparts in other countries to help boost our international trade,” he said.

Kayode Farinto, national vice president, Association of Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA), said the closure of border without ports being accessible would have negative effect on the country.

“There is need for Customs to review its operations, review port development policies, have good road network, ensure interconnectivity in the issue of transportation to aid trade,” he said.

Ogbonnaya Gordon, a former border coordinator, called for a window that would help importers evacuate their trapped goods at the border.

“This policy is good but notice was not given. Importers are dying in silence due to borrowed money, so government should look into this and consider opening the border for a short period for people to evacuate their trapped cargoes,” he said.

Bello Jibo, head, Revenue Seme Customs Command, said apart from illicit trade, security is a major reason for the border closure.

According to him, transit procedure has to do with transporting goods in its original form but unfortunately this has not been so. “Proper transit procedure must be adhered to and anything coming into Nigeria must come in its original form,” Jibo said.

 

AMAKA ANAGOR-EWUZIE

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