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The House of Representatives has rejected the Federal Government’s ban on the importation of vehicles through land borders scheduled to take effect from January 1, 2017. It urged the executive to suspend the policy.

The Green Chamber, instead, advised the federal government to ensure that the law enforcement agencies, especially those working at the borders, are diligent in their duties by ensuring that import charges through the land borders are paid when due and remitted to the government’s coffers.

This resolution followed a motion by Hon. Abubakar Salame (APC, Sokoto), which was adopted after a prolonged debate by lawmakers. Leading debate on the motion, Salame expressed concern that the federal government had failed to provide alternative measures in place to ensure that Nigerians will still have access to purchase cars cheaply, before placing the ban.

He said that in spite of the fact that many Nigerians were currently unemployed due to the current economic recession; the government was adopting a policy that would cause more untold hardship.

Salame also noted that the policy may also give rise to more corrupt practices, as corrupt Customs officers may exploit the situation for their own gain, which in turn may lead to more loss of revenue for the government.

Supporting the motion, Hon. Babangida Ibrahim (APC, Katsina) argued that it was wrong for the government to ask vehicle importers to use the sea as entry points whereas it takes only 30 minutes to move it from Cotonou in Benin Republic to Lagos in Nigeria. Also in his contribution, Hon. Zakari Mohammed (APC, Kwara) said that all government policies should and must have a human face.

However, Hon. Linus Okorie (APC, Ebonyi) raised issues against the motion, saying that the federal government has powers under the customs and excise Act to ban importation of certain goods.

Speaker Yakubu Dogara however ruled Okorie out of order. But also kicking against the motion, Hon. Ahmad Usman Babba Kaita (APC, Katsina) submitted that the ban was aimed at addressing fundamental anomalies in the economy and should, instead, be applauded by the lawmakers.

In adopting the motion, the House also urged the government to install boarder security and surveillance equipment for effective monitoring to address the recurring menace of smuggling and ensure a maximum revenue generation on all lawfully imported goods.

It equally urged the federal government to expand its plan on youth empowerment programmes by developing skills acquisition centres in border areas so as to enable the youth to acquire skills on business in the area.

The House, therefore, mandated its committees on government affairs and customs and excise to ensure federal government suspends the ban and report back to the House within six weeks.

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