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Cameroon Loses FCFA 2 Billion To Boko Haram 

By Yerima Kini Nsom

The diabolic activities of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, caused the state of Cameroon to lose circa FCFA 2 billion in 2014. The Director of Customs, Minette Libom Li Likeng, revealed this during a conference at the International Relations Institute of Cameroon, IRIC, on January 22. The conference, that brought together officials from the various institutions concerned with the management of the country’s borders, was intended to arrest the continuous decline of custom revenue in the wake of the upsurge of Boko Haram activities in the Far North Region.

Hinged on the theme: “Coordinated Management of Frontiers; A Participative Move for All Concerned Actors,” the conference took place ahead of the World Customs Day that is being celebrated today January 26. While harping on the challenges of collecting customs revenue in such a chaotic situation, the customs boss regretted that revenue collection was on a decline in the area. She said some of the most lucrative Customs posts in the Far North, that used to feed State coffers with huge sums of money, have been closed down because of Boko Haram attacks.

Instead of FCFA 5 billion, she went on, customs services in the Far North were only able to realise FCFA 3 billion in 2014. Based on this, the Director said it was incumbent for other State actors to join the customs to chart new strategies for the coordinated management of border areas.  To her, the crux of the matter lies in promoting a partnership between the custom; the military, the police and other State services so that they can tackle the border insecurity. The Chief of Customs for the Far North said revenue collection has been in fast decline since the Boko Haram started its activities in the Region. He revealed that six customs posts, including the very lucrative ones in Fotokol and Limani, have been shut down. He said the posts used to reap so much revenue for the country because, besides Nigeria, they were the window to the great parts of the West African Region.

Apart from the Kousseri Customs Post, he remarked, the usual business effervescence that triggered the outflow of revenue from many customs posts in the area is dead. He said the situation degenerated and fell to the lowest ebb on May 17, 2014, when Boko Haram attacked a Chinese road construction firm rehabilitating the Mora-Dabanga stretch and kidnapped 10 of its workers. The attack in Kolofata had devastating consequences on the local customs services. This led to the closure of the customs posts in Limani, Fotokol, Dabanga, Kolofata and Mbiame, among others. He said customs officers that worked in the above mentioned posts have been redeployed to work in areas of the Region that are less risky.

He said customs services have been playing an important role in the fight against insecurity in the Far North Region. He revealed that elements of the customs posts in Ngueli seized an important consignment of arms and ammunition from Boko Haram agents in Dabanga and Maltam. He said, instead of collecting FCFA 5 billion, as usual, they collected only FCFA 3.9 billion in 2014. It was also revealed during the occasion that customs revenue along the eastern borders, especially in the Garoua-Boulai Customs Posts, has been on a steady decline because of the crisis in neighbouring Central African Republic, CAR. Participants at the conference which was moderated by Varsity Don, Prof. Ntuba Ebode, were unanimous that only coordinated synergy among the actors involved in the management of the borders could enable the customs to reap more revenue for the State in such a situation.

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