A group of businessmen under the aegis of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents and Coconut/ Fish Farmers Union, on Monday protested the continued closure of the nation’s land borders at Seme Border.
The businessmen, who claimed to have lost over N5 billion since the closure of the borders, carried out the protest when a Federal Government delegation led by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohemmed visited the Nigerian border with Republic of Benin.
The protesters, who claimed that the closure had impacted negatively on their businesses, said it was wrong of government agencies to seize coconuts and fishes harvested in Nigeria with the notion that they were not got from Nigeria.
They also claimed that goods paid for before the closure of the borders were seized.
They carried placards with inscriptions such as “Nigeria is a signatory to ECOWAS trade liberation. Why closing the border for importing legitimate goods?”; “Mr. President, we borrowed money from banks, our goods are perishing. We are in debt”, “Mr. President, our duty-paid coconuts from Ghana are trapped and destroyed. Locally produced ones not allowed into our market”, and “The land borders are places of livelihoods. Closing it amounts to creating unemployment and killing people’s businesses.”
Speaking to journalists during the protest, the Chairman of ANLCA Tax Force, Samuel Igbowu, said: “We are here to show our displeasure over what is happening, if you look back, you will see a lot of trucks parked; they are carrying imported goods and those goods have been paid for, duties have been paid. We have lost an estimate of over N5billion since the closure of the borders.
“They have been trapped here for over three months now, they did not allow them to go in. Most of us got loans from the bank to import and up till now, the goods are not allowed to go in, we cannot sell and we cannot return the money we borrowed.
“So, we are here to show our displeasure and plead with the government to allow those that have already paid duty on to go in. We have paid the normal customs duty and we have all the documents processed.
“A single truck here paid over N4 million as customs duty and we have over 900 trucks. We are pleading to the government to please allow those that have paid duty to go in and deliver to our warehouses. We are losing money day in day out. Bank loan is there and interest is accumulating on a daily basis.”
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