February 2, 2023

Maritime Today Online

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‘Only two Customs checkpoints are approved along Badagry-Seme road’

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Controller, Seme border area command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Muhammed Jibo, has said that there are only two approved checkpoints by the Customs management, which are the ones situated at Agbara and Gbaji along the Badagry Seme road.

According to him, any other checkpoints mounted by officers except mobile patrol are illegal.

Maritime Today Online correspondent who visited Seme on Tuesday observed that there are about seven to nine illegal road blocks mounted by officials of the Nigeria Customs Service on the route while about 20 other illegal checkpoints are mounted by the Police and other security agencies with the officials seen openly harassing private and commercial drivers.

Speaking while fielding questions from journalists at the command on the numerous roadblocks, Comptroller Jobo blamed other security agencies including the Nigerian police, Immigration for the multiplicity of checkpoints.

The Customs boss who expressed frustration over the development said the illegal checkpoints are hindering trade adding that efforts to rid the road off the checkpoints have not been successful.

 “I am the Chairman of all the security agencies along this axis, and every of the meetings we hold here always centres on these checkpoints.

“Before I came in, there was a taskforce set up to ensure that these illegal checkpoints do not exist, it was headed by an army colonel. When I took over I found out that they were not doing what I wanted.

“I formed another team headed by an Airforce officer and we gave him the permission to go out and dismantle any illegal checkpoints that he finds along the roads. Some of the checkpoints were burnt down and officials driven away. But unfortunately, after two days, they would reappear again.

“We called for another meeting and challenged ourselves because there is no way a customs team can venture out on illegal checkpoints or patrol without the knowledge of the authority. So, for every checkpoints along the roads, I have told the leaders of the agencies to be accountable for the checkpoints.

“If we are sincere to ourselves, we must remove all these illegal checkpoints. If the taskforce goes around today, by tomorrow you will not see anybody but by the second day, you will start seeing them. It’s so sad because the task force cannot be there permanently.

“The Customs is to ensure trade facilitation, there was a time I saw some trucks that were stopped on the road by other agencies, I came down and asked them to release the trucks because they were genuinely cleared, if they have any doubts, they should come to the command.

“The whole thing boils down to the leadership, if we are sincere to ourselves, all this illegality will stop. But where is the sincerity and patriotism? And how do we facilitate trade in such an environment?” he said.