How Nigeria Embassy Paralysed Beninoa Economy On Monday, Over Independence Anniversary

By Stephen Ubanna

Last Monday, October Ist, 2018, Economic and Social activities were virtually grounded to a halt at Cotonou, Republic of Benin, as all roads lead to the Nigeria Embassy in Cotonou    to join  kayode Oguntunase, the Nigerian  Ambassador   and his officials to celebrate Nigeria’s 58th Independence anniversary.

The situation became more worrisome at Seme, a border Community between the  country and  the French speaking country   as key government  and  Republic of Benin  government officials were at Cotonou on the invitation of the Ambassador to join the embassy in the Independence dinner Anniversary.

The fallout of the Embassy Independence Anniversary dinner was the disruption of the  movement oftruck laden goods from Cotonou port to the trailer park at the Seme joint border post This is because   the Nigeria Customs officials and other security Operatives who take delivery  of the trucks from their Beninoa counterparts for proper document before being driven to the scanner site for scanning   were at Cotonou  to honor the Nigeria Ambassador invitation.

The near one day low key activities at the Cotonou port and Seme border may have downed on the Benininoass  that Nigeria businessmen hold the key to  the country’s  economy. Notwithstanding the fact some land locked countries like Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso, mostly use  the Cotonou port for their transit cargoes, the volume, according to a Beninoa  government official was  nothing compared to  the volume that enters into the Nigerian market alone daily.

Muhammed Uba Garba: Discussing With Other Guests The Nigeria Embassy, Cotonou

As a prelude to the celebration, the Embassy officials were said to have made elaborate preparation as  different Nigeria dancing groups in Republic Benin were contracted  to entertain the crowd. It was learnt that the oguntiae could not hide his joy when he saw  the  cream of Nigeria government officials at the border, particular, Mohameed Uba Garba,  Comptroller  at Seme  Command because of their close working relation to clear the boder  route of smugglers and Benin government officials including  key officials from other agencies.

The Ambassador may have assured Nigerians that the Embassy would continue to do their best to ensure that their Diplomatic needs in the country were met.  Appealing to Nigerians resident  in Benin  to  Cooperate with the Embassy officials, he explained that it is the only way to serve them better. He thanked Patrice Talon, the President of the Republic of Benin for his support , assuring that  Nigeria will  will continously  work harmoniously with  the government of Republic  by way of Collaboration towards enhancing  the existing Cordial relationship between the two countries in the areas of trade  and Investment. the two countries have been deeply involved in the Economic Community of West African States   Trade Liberalisation Scheme, ECOWAS  TLS, a regional integration.

Given the harmonious relationship , the two countries, were said to  have set up a joint anti-smuggling  C team to police the border to forestal smuggling activities.  Hameed Ali, the Comptroller General  of the Nigeria Customs Service,NCS, have been much worried about the smuggling  foreign parboiled rice, Vegetable Oil, poultry products and petrol across the border.

It is not surprising why  the Ambassador has consistently advised Nigerians  against the smuggling of petrol across the border, stressing that   the government still the help of the Embassy to eradicate the  vices at the land border. ” We must stop  in engaging in smuggling as the country is losing billions of naira on   the illicit act. He shared the same vision  with Muhammed , the Customs Comptroller at Seme  Command who had assured him that smugglers will face tough time . The Magazine  learnt the Comptroller was the cynosure of all eyes at the Independence  anniversary dinner at the Embassy  as Journalists swooped on him to know about his anti-smuggling war including the NTA. He did hesitate in using the opportunity provided at the   Embassy to appeal to turn a new  leaf  or be prepared for the consequences  of losing both their smuggled goods and money to the government. He warned that there is no hiding place  for smugglers at the Seme land border  as his officers with the support of other security agencies personnel are daily patrolling the  regular routes of the smugglers and the Creeks to their activities.  He commended Oguntuase, the Nigerian Am Ambassador to the Republic of Benin and his Beninioa counterpart for their support  to control  smuggling activities in the area.  He could not hide his feelings over the robust  working  relationship between  the Nigeria government and the Republic  of Benin  which had simplified  officers job at the border.

It is not surprising why Talon , the Country’s President  was said to have piled up pressure on president Muhammadu Buhari   to lift the ban on the importation of vehicles through the land border into Nigeria to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.

The policy which took  effect last year January  was said to be have  a telling effect on the country’economy as many car marts owned  by Indians, Lebanese and Nigerians in Cotonou are  operating in bits and fits as many  Nigerian buyers have kept away from Cotonou to avoid  falling into the waiting hands of Customs personnel.  The fallout was the increased smuggling of vehicles through illegal routes into the country and the intensified  anti-mugging operations of  Federal Operations Unit, fFOU, in the  south west geo-political region comprising of Lagos, Ogun, Eki, Ondo , Oyo and Osun.

A sources told the Magazine  while Seme Command officers have fully taken over Seme and its environs,  the FOU, Zone A, officers , operating as Operationsand Lagos Roving team, Rapid response  or crack Squad, armed to the teeth with the Compliment of   the Headquarters Strike Fource, Coordinated by Abdullahi Kirawa, a Deputy Comptroller are swarming like bees at Idiroko, in Ogun state, Iseyin and Shaki, Oyo state and other land border stations and Creeks in the region.

Security experts confirmed that the combination of Muhammed, the anti-smuggling Czar at Seme and his counterpart at FOU, Zone A, Adamu Aliyu. Mohammed, smuggling has reduced  considerably at Seme and the South west in general.  Only recently, the FOU, Zone A, Operations and Lagos Roving team  intercepted  nine bullet proof vehicles in various  illegal  locations in Ogun state. The cheapest of the black bullet proof  jeeps  of different vehicle models was put at about N200 million. The smugglers could easily smuggled the exotic bullet proof jeeps that had had no end user certificate from the Ogun state porous borders because Muhammed and his officers higtened up Seme and its environs.

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