Multiple checkpoints of men of the Nigeria Customs Service have returned to the Seme-Lagos Highway months after it was dissolved by the Seme border customs area comptroller (CAC), Victor Dimka.
The CAC had in January 2016, dissolved the 18 checkpoints along the border route to Lagos, leaving only the two approved ones at Gbaji and Agbara.
Dimka’s directive redeploying all customs operatives manning unapproved checkpoints came barely a week after he took charge of customs operations at the nation’s most commercially viable and busiest land frontier.
But the checkpoints that was dismantled eight months ago have returned to the highways with allegations of extortion against customs officers. Investigations revealed that the customs checkpoints are mounted by officers from the Seme Border Command and Federal Operations Unit (FOU).With the former arrangement, both units are supposed to be present at the two approved checkpoints to avoid duplication.
Unfortunately, traders and members of the Seme business community who have once heaved a sigh of relief have been going through a harrowing experience over the return of checkpoints that had over the years remained ubiquitous and increased with time in an alarming rate along the road, serving as avenue for avoidable checks and multiple extortion points. They also ascribed delay in the movements of goods and travellers which has caused huge losses to the return.
Commenting on the development, the Seme Border chapter chairman, Association of Nigerian Licenced Customs Agents (ANLCA), Lasisi Fanu, said that the CAC had told the association that the checkpoints do not disturb them.
He said, “The executives of this chapter have been to the comptroller to ask questions and he gave his reasons. He further asked us whether they disturb us. They don’t disturb unless they are looking for criminals, some people who, sometimes, find one way or the other to cross their vehicles through bush paths. Anyone that manages to pass through the bush paths and come out at Ashipa would want to settle their way home. That is why you see some of them there.