Monday, 27 September, 2021

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Border closure retaliation: Over 3,700 Nigeria-bound trucks trapped at Benin border


•Cotonou enforces N6.5m duty on transit cargo

In what appears like a payback time over Nigeria’s closure of its borders in 2019, the government of the Republic of Benin has stopped Nigeria-bound trucks laden with transit goods from Cote d’ivoire, Ghana and Togo from passing through its border to Nigeria.

This development has left over 3,700 Nigeria-bound trucks laden with transit goods worth several billions of naira trapped between Ilakoji, a border between Ghana, Togo and Benin.

However, stakeholders were worried that some of the goods, which have been under both rain and sun, might have gone bad, particularly the perishable ones, which will bring huge financial losses to the affected companies.

As a result of the closure, Daily Sun learnt that the Benin government has imposed a new import duty payment of CFA 9 million, per every transit truck laden with Nigeria-bound goods, an equivalent of about N6.5 million which, are exempted from all forms of duty under ECOWAS protocols on transit goods.

Confirming the development, the Chairman of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANCLA) Seme border chapter, Bisiriyu Fanu, said Benin authority actually stopped the cargoes that were coming from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo to Nigeria passing through Cotonou land, Ilakoji and Seme border.  

Benin government wants to be collecting full duty on those goods, adding that the authority claimed they suspected that the goods are not produced in West Africa.

“They don’t even give any reason why they stopped the goods because when we asked them, they said they were investigating. What they are investigating nobody knew. The Benin Republic Controller at Seme border said they didn’t give Ilakoji any circular. Because some of our colleagues that have their trucks trapped, they could not cross Ilakoji border to Benin even entering Seme border up till now.

“The issue has been on for the past two weeks and it has not been resolved. I went with my team to Nigerian Embassy in Cotonou to make formal report and they have escalated it to Abuja. Republic of Togo and Ghana have also escalated it to ECOWAS. They held about two to three meetings between the last two weeks and now, they have not come to any conclusion.

According to him, what is happening is between Benin President and Nigeria President. He said that when Togo and Ghana wrote to ECOWAS, the Cotonou Government said Togo and Ghana never offended them that it is Nigeria they want to deal with. 

He explained that ideally a transit goods is not supposed to pay a kobo because in the transiting country, it will just pass through, adding that Nigerian government has not done anything to intervene up till now.

Credit: Daily Sun

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