There are strong indications that the Federal Government of Nigeria may lift the ban on importation of vehicles through the land border which it imposed in January 2017.

The government may have resolved to do this following the successful implementation of a new initiative by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Customs Service of the Republic of Benin to automate and network all electronic information about incoming cargoes through the border.

The Comptroller General of the NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) revealed the Nigerian government’s new stance on Wednesday at a stakeholders’ meeting on the new initiative, expressing confidence that with the successful implementation of the bilateral electronic connectivity programme between both countries, the Federal Government might lift the ban on items coming through the land border.

Ali, who was represented by the Assistant Comptroller, Information and Communication Technology ofo Benjamin Aber said the government’s decision to shut down importation of vehicles through the border was because there was no reliable system that would assist in controlling importation.

“Vehicles were formerly being imported through the Seme border but suddenly it was banned because the pressure of enforcement of anti-smuggling for vehicles and claiming of lives and revenue were becoming too alarming. So the government had to restrict the importation to Nigerian ports.

“When vehicles came through the land border, we did not have a record of how the imported cars came here and fake documentation became a common phenomenon. The ban was just a control measure against the practice.

“By the time we successfully deploy this reliable, transparent and predictable programme that would assist government agencies, not only Customs, to control and regulate the importation of vehicles, the government may decide to relax such restrictions,” Ali said.

He explained that the establishment of the automated platform and bilateral connectivity means that if any truck leaves the Republic of Benin, the information would be remotely sent in English to NCS’s system.

He further assured that with such a measure in place, the illegal checkpoints mounted by Customs officers and other security agencies along the border corridors would automatically disappear.