NCS To Officers; You Are On Your Own
By Bayo Bernard
The Federal government a la Nigeria Customs Service, NCS have failed to intervene in the undue harassment and intimidation of Nigeria customs officers by their Beninoise counterparts. The matter has now reached a tipping point that officers from the NCS believe they are no longer safe working in the territory belonging to Republic of Benin.
The Seme area command of the NCS has recently complained of intimidation of its men by their Benin Republic counterpart. But as it seems, the management of the NCS in Abuja led by a retired Army Colonel, Hameed Ali feels otherwise and seems not to be taking the matter with the seriousness it deserves.
The National Public Relations Officer, PRO of NCS, Joseph Attah gave an insight of thinking of the management of the service while speaking with the magazine over the issue. Attah had told the magazine that the Headquarters in Abuja is unaware of any incident involving men of the NCS and their counterpart in Benin Republic. The Customs image maker plainly told the magazine during a telephone conversation that “ there are no issue” between his men in Seme Command and officers from the neighboring country.
From all indications, the NCS seems to be playing possum with the entire issue, even allegation by Nigeria custom men in Seme, that their Beninoise counterparts are involved in violation of trans-border trade agreement by the Benin Republic government.
For instance, if indeed, there are no issues as the management of the NCS said, why did the controller of Seme Command decided recently to move its men from the Atlas Cove park in Benin Republic, a territory in that country that have been used by both customs for years?
In fact, the magazine learnt that Comptroller Mohammed Aliyu in charge of the Seme command has recently written to the Customs management in Abuja seeking the approval of the Ali led NCS to for the relocation of his officers from the Atlas Cove park to a new transit point on the Nigeria controlled part of the border,
Also, the Public Relations Officer of the command, Taupyen Salenchang had told Ships and Ports Daily that men of the command were constantly been harassed while performing their legitimate duty by Benin Republic officials. He also stated that the relocation of Nigeria customs officers has become imminent in the face of the constant disagreement, stating that the move will lead to the protection of the nation’s security.
The move, he added will also check the illegalities within the border corridor, as well as improve trade between the two countries and generate more revenue for the country. He accused the Benin government of being responsible for bringing in contaminated goods into Nigeria. The relocation, he said “ will help in protecting the security of Nigeria.”
The Benin government brings in contaminated goods into Nigeria and “ when they bring it, they have to trans-load it within the Atlas Park and it’s not in our interest.”
The magazine leant that the crisis of confidence between the two customs authorities has become so worrisome for Controller Mohammed, who in turn has advised his boss in Abuja that the only way out, is to move his officers to the Nigerian territory to avoid escalation of the crisis.
But with the way things currently stand, the NCS seems not ready act on the matter. But some officers who spoke to the magazine on the matter said working on the Benin side of the border pose more danger to their lives, because “they now regard us as unwelcome guests” one senior officer from Seme command told the magazine.