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Senate rejects ban on importation of cars through land borders

Senate Wednesday rejected Federal Government’s ban on the importation of vehicles through land borders.

Specifically, the Senate described it as an anti-people policy that could further impoverish Nigerians.

Adopting a motion sponsored by Barau Jibrin, it called on the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to immediately suspend further action on its policy of an outright ban on the importation of vehicles through land borders as from January 1, 2017.

Deputy president of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to listen to the cries of Nigerians and rescind the decision.

Ekweremadu noted: “From the contributions made, it is obvious that the policy is unpopular. We are representatives of the people and the people have spoken through us that they do not want this policy. I think those in government should listen to them.”

The Senate also directed its Committee on Customs and Excise to investigate the circumstances that led to the sudden decision of the Federal Government on the issue of the importation of vehicles through the land borders.

The committee headed by Hope Uzodinma is expected to report back within two weeks.

The Federal Government recently rolled out new tariffs on imported goods and also placed a total ban on importation of vehicles through the land borders.

Since the policy was introduced, it has generated a mixed reaction, with majority of Nigerians, calling for a reversal of the policy.

Earlier in his presentation, Jibrin explained that the ban would lead to the loss of about 500,000 jobs by the people engaged in the business of vehicle importation and handling services in the border areas and around the country.

He further argued: “The economy of border villages and towns that depend on the activities of vehicles importation shall be adversely affected to the detriment of all.

“Since the announcement, through the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerians have spoken out, and they still do, that it is not economically expedient to ban the importation of vehicles through our land borders given the ramification of such a policy on the economy.

“The decision was ostensibly premised on the allegation that the importation of vehicles through the land borders no longer holds good prospect for revenue generation because of the large scale evasion of import duties.”

Senators, who took their turns to speak on the issue, condemned the policy.

Former Senate leader, Ali Ndume, said: “Let us not forget the fact that the constitution says the primary responsibility of government is for the security and welfare of the people. This policy will render so many small businesses useless. My constituents are disturbing me to ensure that this policy is reversed.

“Why can’t Nigeria look at its policy to ensure that our laws are reformed? The era where people stay in their offices and make policies that are detrimental to the welfare of the people is wrong. I call on this Senate to pass this motion with teeth. This resolution should be implemented when passed.”

In his submission, Dino Melaye, said: “We are in a precarious situation in this country. We are at a time when people are not sure where the next meal will come from. This government needs to consider the welfare of the people. In enacting any policy, we must look at the social impacts.

“This policy announcement, to me, is an admittance by Customs that they lack the capacity to mount our borders effectively. As a parliament, we must speak in the interest of the people. We should be seen to be defending the people we are representing here.”

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