Nigeria-Benin border scanner begins operation soon, says Uba

…As customs command generates N2.8b in three months

Compt. Uba (right) speaking during the display of the seizures

Trade procedures and anti-smuggling drive are expected to improve very soon at the Nigeria-Benin Republic land border at Seme as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Joint Border Post takes delivery of the ultra-modern scanner donated by the European Union (EU).

Showcasing the facility to newsmen, Compt. Muhammed Uba Garba of the Seme Area Command, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), disclosed that the scanner was still being test run, and that when fully operational, would facilitate trade and clearance of goods at the post.

According to him, the scanner, which is for both countries’ customs, would be maintained by ECOWAS for two years, after which the Joint Committee of Nigeria and Benin Customs, which he currently heads, with his Benin Republic counterpart as co-chair, would continue the maintenance.

He further disclosed that customs officers of both countries have been trained on how to operate it, including reading images from the scanner, adding that any truck with images not sufficiently clear would be subjected to 100 per cent physical examination.

According to him, “the scanner is one of the tools for improving border operation. The European Union has been partners in the development of third world countries. In Africa, we have 80 of this type of border posts.”

Meanwhile, Uba, who noted that smuggling was drastically reducing along the corridor as the agency’s anti-smuggling operations intensified, said the command’s total revenue and seizures from March to June 18, 2019 was approximately N2.8 billion, while six suspects were arrested in connection with some of the seizures during the period.

He disclosed that the command thwarted a desperate criminal move by smugglers who concealed 55 wraps of cannabis under a corps being brought in from Ghana, along the Owode axis, plus other 1,582 parcels concealed in an Indomie truck with a total street value of over N30 million.

The other seizures included 2,000 cartons of expired biscuits and a truck loaded with 493 packs of expired baby diapers, 8,304 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice (over 14 trailers) with DPV and levy amounting to N88.73 million, 175×6 yards of textile materials worth N2.2 million, and 15 sacks of used clothes worth N677,486.

There were also 11 vehicles, including Toyota Highlander (2005), Range Rover (2007), Toyota Rav 4 (2006), Toyota Venza (2010) and others with DPV of N46.1 million, 28 cartons of medicament worth N1.1 million, and 410 sacks of school bags worth N13.2 million, among others.

Explaining the circumstances surrounding the interception of corpse, Uba disclosed that the customs security outfit had routinely flagged down the Toyota Sienna conveying the corpse, which was certified so, but on careful examination, it was found to be on parcels of Indian hemp.

It was discovered “on further examination that something was hidden under the corpse. The vigilant customs officers wanted to know what it was, and on bringing the corpse down immediately, we saw cannabis. We didn’t believe it was a dead body, it was opened and certified, and 55 wraps of cannabis was found hidden under it.”

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