By Steve Agbota
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has condemned the new import duty policy imposed by Benin Republic on Nigeria-bound cargoes transiting through its corridors.
Daily Sun learnt that the Benin government 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 the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocols on transit goods.
This development has left about 3,700 Nigeria-bound trucks laden with transit goods worth several billions of Naira trapped between Ilakoji, a border between Togo and Benin for the past four months.
Speaking with journalists at Seme border, the NCS Area Controller, Seme Command, Comptroller Muhammed Jibo, said that the policy by the Benin Republic government is against the ECOWAS protocols and international transit agreements. He bemoaned the insistence by Benin Republic Customs to collect duty on the transit goods without a formal circular to the Nigeria Customs Service, adding that the development has affected the command’s revenue collection as goods worth billions of Naira are still stranded within the Benin Republic borders.
“The Command began the activities of the year, 2021 with focus on the main objectives of revenue collection and facilitation of legitimate trade. However, the Benin Republic economic policies affected the revenue drive of the command as all goods transiting through Benin were mandated to pay some duties and levies by the government of Benin Republic which is contrary to ECOWAS protocols and international transit agreements.
“What we know as Customs officers is that transit agreement and ECOWAS protocol does not allow goods transiting through a country for any duty to be paid on such goods. Duties are supposed to be paid in the country of destination…”