Nigeria Loses N1.15bn In 6 Months At Seme


Nigeria, famed big brother to a number of other African countries, may be getting a raw deal in the implementation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), one of the schemes adopted by ECOWAS to facilitate sub-regional trade and integration.

However, if Nigeria must tighten all avenues of revenue leakages, the Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, may have to recommend and push for prompt review of the ETLS, which financial benefits in the many years of the regime’s implementation, analysts aver, have not been commensurate with the nation’s investment of efforts and other resources.

Whatever financial gains that may have come the way of Nigeria through the collection of revenue under ETLS, it is believed, is grossly outweighed by the huge revenue leakages caused either by the scheme’s modus operandi or systemic fraud by certain importers/exporters or their agents.

Notably at Seme, one of Nigeria’s busiest frontiers and gateway connecting the country to the West African sub-region, its Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) had in the first half of the year, under the scheme, cleared 1,454 trucks laden with ETLS-compliant goods at a cargo insurance and freight (CIF) value of N4,114,448,786.27.

”While N38,986,839, which represents one per cent of the FOB (free on board), was realised as revenue, the revenue loss as a result of the scheme concession, stood at N1,142,345,524.58,” said the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Comptroller Sadiq Abubakar Sahabi.

The Seme Customs boss, who was briefing the press on the half-year activities of the command at the border post, said “our strict vigilance over the ETLS scheme led to the discovery of a fraudulent importation and falsely declared as ETLS-compliant goods. In the course of physical examination, 4,512 pieces of galvanised pipes with a duty paid value of N38,846,250.00, purported to be in line with the scheme, was discovered to be of China origin. The goods were instantly seized, two persons involved arrested and detained. After proper investigations, the suspects were arraigned before the competent court where they were tried and eventually convicted accordingly.”

Similarly, he said the command recently foiled an attempt by some fraudulent persons to smuggle into the country, 801 metric tons of iron rod through the scheme. This, according to him, led to the recovery of N48 million revenue that would have been lost if the attempted fraud had succeeded.

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