Clearing agents decry extortion, multiple checkpoints along Seme, Idiroko borders  – The Sun Nigeria

•Police turns to money agents amid scarcity of naira

By Steve Agbota 

Clearing agents under the aegis of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) have decried the high level of extortion and over 260 security checkpoints along Seme and Idiroko borders. 

This is even as they said Policemen now turned to money agents as they give out cash to people who are in need of money and collect transfer in return. 

When Daily Sun visited the two borders posts recently, there were over 260 checkpoints mounted by various security personnel, including Police, Immigration, Civil Defense and others, which motorists and clearing agents described as embarrassing situation to Nigeria as a country.

They lamented that the extortion and illegal checkpoints are hindering movement of transit cargoes both inward and outward of the borders.

Among the security personnel along the borders, Police has the highest checkpoints. For instance, at Seme border, Police has over 80 checkpoints alone on the inward part of the border.

Speaking with Daily Sun, ANLCA Chairman, Seme Chapter, Mr Onyekachi Ojinma, said at Seme border corridor, there are a lot of check points, which make smuggling  a thriving business.

“We had a meeting with the international organisation on border trade recently, and the Executive Secretary of the organisation was telling us that from Guinea, Nairobi and one other country I can’t remember to Cotonou, they used to have five checkpoints, now they found out that the five checkpoints delay movement of vehicles and goods, they cut it down to three checkpoints. From Kenya to Cotonou, they now have just three checkpoints only, look at the distance from Kenya to Cotonou,” he said.

He said from Seme border to Cotonou has only one checkpoint while the other one is for drivers and parks association is only for commercial vehicles. 

“When you get to Customs checkpoint, you only open your boot for check and go.  No police checkpoint on the road. But when you come to Nigeria’s checkpoint, you will see more than 200 checkpoints. Army has left their barracks and mount checkpoints on the road there. 

“Are you talking about immigration? Road safety now have checkpoints and Civil Defense have checkpoints. Police have more than 80. What are they doing there? It is an embarrassing situation! The joining that will take you 30 minutes or 50 minutes from  Okoko to Badagry, will take you five hours and you will see police collecting money and giving change.

“Now we have scarcity of money, people are now getting money from police, you will transfer and they give you money. Between one to three checkpoints, they make up to N100,000 and they will transfer it to their account,” he added.

There are a lot of borders in Nigeria. People are smuggling in cars like they are bringing in water. They are bringing them in free without paying anything. These are the ordinary people that used to pay duty to Customs as revenue. I heard Customs saying they could not meet their target. How can they meet their target with their harsh policy? The harsh policy pushes some people who used to pay duty into smuggling,” he explained. 

He said the system is too bad and nothing is working  in Nigeria, saying only God can save the situation. 

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