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Freight Monitor

Freight Forwarders raise alarm over containers broaching at Apapa port examination bay

Eyewitness reporter
Freight Forwarders plying their trade at the Apapa port have expressed concerns over the alarming rate of container broaching and cargo theft at the  Customs’ examinations bay at the APM Terminals, Apapa.
Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, the Co-ordinator of 100 percent compliance team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) who ventilated the aggregate feelings of concerned freight forwarders, enjoined all the stakeholders, especially the security agencies, to rise up and nip the rising threat in the bud before it escalates to unimaginable proportion.
Alhaji Tanko, who was briefing the press on the outcome of the security meeting he convened with the relevant agencies and other players in the industry, revealed a lot of anomalies that characterise the process of cargo examination at the Apapa port.
According to him, apart from losing their cargo to “wharf rats”, importers are also losing their goods to indiscriminate sampling by agencies at the ports.
“We are losing a lot of money as a result of sampling. Almost all the agencies, Customs, NDLEA, DSS, labour take samples while it is the duty of NAFDAC and SON that officially has the right to take sample items after which they are returned to their owners and there are procedures for sampling. This is what we are suffering here”, he lamented.
Tanko explained the covert ways port urchins pilfer cargo at the examination bay, especially those seized and kept by Customs.
“There are number of times the containers seized by Nigeria Customs Service, kept at the designated area, were broken by these wharf rats, carted away with the cargoes especially, banned substance like Tramadol” Tanko claimed.
“There is a need to reduce crowd at the Examination Bay.
“We observed that about 50 – 60 people sleep in APMT platform.
“One day, a freight forwarder was traced from the platform to his house and in the process,  the police investigations showed the suspect was one of those who sleep on that platform.
“The APM Terminal is not a sleeping place nor a football field. Those doing that should stop

“Everybody has a role to play both the Nigeria Police, Nigeria Customs Service, NPA, DSS and others.

” APM Terminal are not the owners of the port, rather partners. Since the platform housing Customs offices now belong to Customs as I am made to understand,  Customs should then take charge”, the NAGAFF National Vice-President, declared.
Tanko disclosed that all the stakeholders who attended the security meeting at the instance of the NAGAFF compliance team were unanimous in their determination to work together to stamp out the menace.
According to him, the Area Comptroller of Apapa command, Alhaji Ibrahim Yusuf Malanta, stated that his Command had already taken steps to reduce the crowd by introducing Customs permit tag for Customs examination officers.
Malanta, according to Tanko, added that Customs officers who are to conduct examinations of containers cannot access the bay without the tag which will have the officers’ picture and name.
The Customs’ helmsman reportedly said the command had also created tags for clearing agents whose consignments had been positioned for examination, as well as placed enforcement officers to secure the platform.
Also speaking at the security meeting, the Chief Security Officer (CSO), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) who represented the agency, on his part, reportedly reiterated the need for proper and effective issuance of the permit as well as calling for the setting up of Joint Security Night Patrol which will involve Customs, Police and Compliance Team to fish out the criminals.

The President-General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria(MWUN), Adewale Adeyanju through his representative, reportedly lauded the initiative of the NAGAFF compliance team but however blamed the security agents for the security lapses at the port.

The Port Police, on their part, was said to have denied any knowledge of the incidents, claiming no report had been formerly brought to their knowledge.

The police representative however commended Tanko for the laudable initiative and assured of the readiness of the port police to swing into action in a bid to curb the rising security threat.

Those who attended the meeting included The CAC, Apapa Command, Controller Yusuf Malanta, The Port Police Commissioner,
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) represented by the Chief Security Officer, The DSS, Mekura, the Contractor of Labour, the President Of Maritime Labour, APMT, NAGAFF, AREFFN, while ANLCA, Council of Managing Directors were absent.

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Freight Monitor

ANLCA cracks

Emenike Nwekeoji , ANLCA President
–ASECO chair resigns, cites internal pressure, backbiting, distrust
— insurrection at MMIA chapter as coup against chairman foiled 
The Eyewitness Reporter
Six months after the highly factionalized elections which brought in the duo of Emenike Nwekeoji and Olusegun Oduntan as the National President and Vice President respectively of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) in September 2023, the graveyard peace which heralded the pyrrhic victory seems to have ruptured.
The fragile peace, which was the fallout of the five years of bitter and intractable war that sent the oldest freight forwarding association to a state of inertia, now seems to have given way to distrust, bickering, animosity, suspicion and repressed anger among the top echelon of the association.
To underline the smouldering fresh crisis that has hit the association, Nze Aloy Emeka Igwe, the Chairman of the Association Elections Committee(ASECO )of ANLCA, has resigned his appointment.
In his letter of resignation dated 27th, February 2024 and addressed to the National President, Emenike Nwekeoji, Igwe, in a voice laden with regret and bitterness, cited extraneous influence, backbiting, under current and lack of trust” as the reasons why he called it quit.
“ASECO as presently constituted depicts a divided house due to the extraneous influence and pressure.
” The under current, the backbiting and lack of trust within and without ASECO have caused me to review my membership and chairmanship of the committee.
“I have deeply addressed my thoughts to this, consulted my family, friends and associates and decided that my time with ASECO is irreversibly over.
“There is no energy, no motivation left in me to continue to work under the prevailing regrettable circumstances” Igwe bemoaned.
A few days after the resignation of the highly traumatized ASECO chairman, a coup was played out at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport chapter of the association where one Chief Bola Ashiru Balogun, one of the defeated candidates of the chapter elections staged an unsuccessful coup to unseat the incumbent chairman, Bangbala Adewusi, Monday, March 4th,2024.
In a commando-like style, Chief Bola Balogun came into the Chairman’s office with officers of the Police Force from the Zonal Headquarters, Zone 2, Onikan.
According to an eyewitness account, on the strength of a petition of threat to Life against the Chairman, the Chairman, Chief Adewusi followed them to the Zonal Headquarters
“While the Chairman was away to Zone 2, Chief Bola Balogun allegedly came with hoodlums and area boys to forcefully break into the office of the Chairman and seize power forcefully on the strength of a May 2023 court judgement, which has been appealed and is currently being heard by the Appeal Court”
However, the attempt to unseat Chief Adewusi, who sources said was an unpopular chairman foisted  on the chapter by the cabal in ANLCA, was thwarted by members of the Task Force, led by the CSO, Mr. Maxwell Onyemachi, and other well-meaning members of the chapter loyal to the embattled chairman.
However, the last is yet to be head of the failed coup at the MMIA chapter as a group loyal to Chief Ashiru Balogun has promised to relaunch the attack on the Chairman, Chief Adewusi who they regarded as a puppet of the cabal in the association.
Stakeholders feared that the recent happening in the association may have signaled the slide of ANLCA back to another round of crisis which has ravaged the war-weary group for five years before its graveyard peace that is now shortlived.
The ANLCA President, Emenike Nwekeoji, through the Sectary of the Association, Olumide Fakanlu, “has graciously accepted the resignation letter of the highly embittered ASECO chairman.
In his acceptance letter dated March 1st, 2024 and signed by Fakanlu, the ANLCA President said the letter was received with mixed feelings but nonetheless, it was graciously accepted while wishing Emeka Igwe well in his future endeavours, thus signaling the resumption of hostilities in the acclaimed oldest freight forwarding Association in Nigeria’s maritime industry
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Freight Monitor

CRFFN’s desperate gasp for survival

Mrs Chinyere Uromta, Acting Registrar, CRFFN.

The Eyewitness Reporter

Like a sinking man, the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria(CRFFN) is currently gasping for breath.

The council, created by the Act of the National Assembly No 16 2007, to regulate and control the practice of freight forwarding in Nigeria, has largely remained ineffective and redundant over the years.

Under its watch, the freight forwarders, its primary constituents, have been subjected to several operational challenges which have crippled their businesses, without the Council raising as much as a finger to stand in the gap for them.

Under the nose of the CRFFN, the shipping companies and terminal operators have turned the hapless freight forwarders into punching bags through arbitrary and frivolous charges.

Under the nose of the Council, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has severally increased the Customs duty exchange rate to the point of suffocating the freight forwarders out of business.

In all of these several challenges, the CRFFN stands arms akimbo, watching as the freight Forwarders are being buffeted from all sides without any glimmer of intervention.

Curiously, these are the same distraught and bruised freight forwarders from whom the Council expects to collect Practitioners Operating fee(POF).

A responsible and responsive Council, which is charged not only with regulating the freight forwarding practice but equally charged with ensuring that the operating environment for the freighters is conducive for thriving businesses, would have been seen fighting for the welfare and well-being of its constituents.

A caring Council should have been seen liaising with the CBN, Federal Ministry of Finance and the Nigeria Customs Service on ways to ensure that the operating environment for the freight forwarders is guaranteed amidst the frequent changes in customs duty exchange rate.

We are not saying the council should or could stop the increase as they are subject to fiscal and monetary policies of the government but at least, the council, through such discussions, interaction and collaboration, would have not only passed the message to the authorities but be seen by the freight forwarders that they have a trusted ally in the council.

Similarly, an effective council should have been seen to have severally engaged the Nigeria Shippers’ Council, which regulates the commercial activities of the terminal operators and shipping companies, over the arbitrary charges of these entities.

But CRFFN, over the years, didn’t do any of these. Rather what its management is concerned about is the collection of POF.

No wonder the Council is not popular among the freight forwarders who regard the body as ineffective and which made them resisted the payment of  POF.

It took the bully and ministerial directive of the erstwhile Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi to coerce the hapless freight forwarders to pay the controversial POF.

That is why we see the current effort of Mrs Chinyere Uromta, the Acting Registrar of the CRFFN and her team to “befriend” the freight forwarding Associations as a desperate bid to make the council survive and remain relevant in the industry it is supposed to regulate and superintendent over.

When last had the council made this kind of  gesture towards its constituency?

But when the Federal government pulled the rug under the council by removing it from its budgetary allocation , that was when the CRFFN suddenly found its subjects as beautiful brides.

It is even more disheartening to note that throughout the engagement of the council with these Associations, how to raise revenue through the enhanced formula of POF collection was what dominated the discussion of the council.

We are not aware where the council, during its tour of its constituents, raised the operational challenges of the freight forwarders such as the indiscriminate and sometimes frivolous charges by the service providers.

Not once did Mrs. Uromta express concern and probably sympathy with the freight forwarders over the frequent adjustment of customs duty exchange rate by the CBN.

Her preoccupation was how can the council remains financially stable following the removal of the CRFFN from the federal government “freebies”

“We are expecting a final meeting that could lead us to collection of POF at the airports because we know that our money is still there.

“We pray that by the support of the Ministry and the cooperation of stakeholders, that meeting will be called any moment from now.

“It was the same meeting the former Minister of Transportation, the same letter that was written to the NPA that facilitated our collection at the seaport, the same letter the Minister had written to the aviation to direct NCAA to initiate that move.

“So, we are looking forward to the fruitfulness of that meeting and when it is done, we solicit for the cooperation of stakeholders because any money realized, part of it will still go back to stakeholders for training and every other challenge that we have in the ports that has to do with our mandate.”

That was Mrs. Uromta discussing how to collect enhance the collection of POF at the seaports and commence its collection at the cargo airport and the border post and the modalities for sharing formula.

Not once did she mention the operational challenges the practitioners are currently facing.

Even if the proposed review of the Act that established the Council eventually sails through ( that might take quite some time) the popularity rating of the Council will not improve if the regulatory body continues to ignore the welfare of the freight forwarders.

The previous Registrars, especially the immediate Registrar, Sam Nwokohu, have done great harm to the psyche of the freight forwarders through his alleged arrogance, high- handedness, and gross financial impropriety which have combined to make the council a pariah among its constituents.

Mrs. Uromta and her team should be more creative and proactive in their approach toward reflating the burst image of the council.

In as much as she has the right to ensure the financial stability and survival of the council, Uromta should not forget that her constituents, the agonised, distraught and highly bruised freight forwarders equally have the right to business stability in an operating environment that would stimulate and sustain their economic survival.

Part of the strategic agenda of the council as contained in its Act includes “to  promote enabling entrepreneurial environment for Freight Forwarding business, thereby creating employment opportunities for teaming Nigeria”

“To embark on rigorous research to enable the Council benchmark Freight Forwarding in Nigeria with international best practices”

“To make the Council an international training hub for Freight Forwarding, logistics and supply chain management”

“To develop a comprehensive Freight Forwarding policy and to re-position the sub-sector”

To what extent has the council fulfilled this mandate since its creation?

The incumbent management of the council should do more to meet some of these mandates rather than its present panicky and desperate measures for survival.

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Freight Monitor

Major industry stakeholders shun ANLCA’s NECOM inauguration

The Eyewitness Reporter 
Apparently pissed off by the protracted crisis that had made the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) a laughing stock in the maritime industry in the last five years, major industry stakeholders stayed away from the inauguration of the new National Executive Council of the association.
The new NECOM, headed by Emenike Nwokeoji, was inaugurated Thursday, November 23rd, 2023 at Marcellina Place on Isaac John Street, Ikeja.
Despite the hyped nature of the event with a vaunted grade A list of invited stakeholders, most of the stakeholders whose names were flaunted at the pre-event press conference shunned the inauguration ceremony.
Top on the list of the invited guest who didn’t honour the invitation was Wale Adeniyi, the Comptroller General of Customs, who was said to have indicated his intention to personally attend.
“Already, the Customs Comptroller General has given us his word that he would be coming personally for the inauguration” the Special Assistant to the ANLCA President on Media, Alhaji Ayokunle Sulaiman, had boasted a few days before the event.
Adeniyi sent ACG Jibo Mohammed, Zonal Coorinator, Zone A, Lagos.
Curiously, none of the heads of the agencies of government in the maritime industry such as the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Shippers’Council Council, Council of Registered Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN) showed up nor sent their representatives.
More instructive was the absence of the CRFFN which is the regulatory agency for the freight forwarding industry to which ANLCA belongs.
The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Gboyega Oyetola, neither came nor sent a representative.
The mass boycott of the event by the notable industry players was despite the hype to which the organizers had subjected the expected attendance of these critical stakeholders.
“The industry bigwigs, which included the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Gboyega Oyetola, the Comptroller General of Customs Adewale Adeniyi, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohamed Bello-Koko, all indicated their interest to attend” Alhaji Ayokunle Sulaiman had further declared before the event.
More instructive is the absence of some of the past Presidents of the Association whose attendance would have further boosted the event.
An eyewitness account has it that apart from three past leaders of ANLCA such as Prince Shittu Olayiwola, Alhaji Innua Mohammed and understandably, Chief Ernest Elochukwu, others stayed away without sending representatives.
This was despite their hyped expected attendance.
“Also, past presidents of ANLCA and past Board of Trustees Chairmen will be in attendance” Alhaji Ayokunle Sulaiman had declared prior to the event.
Most of the terminal operators, who have business nexus with the freight forwarders, were also not keen to attend the hyped event.
Apart from Grimaldi, operators of PTML and ENL, which sent junior representatives, others like PTML, Ports and Cargos, Five Stars Logistics, and Tin Can Island Port terminal all stayed away.
For inexplicable reasons, sister freight forwarding groups, who are among the five registered freight forwarding associations with the CRFFN, also stayed away, except the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) whose President was in attendance.
However, according to eyewitness reports, what the event lacked in attendance of key industry stakeholders, it gained in the massive presence of the ANLCA members who thronged the venue apparently due to long years of being starved of such air of conviviality as a result of the long- drawn crisis in ANLCA.
Stakeholders however believed that the absence of key industry stakeholders at the ANLCA event despite their due invitation and consultation is a sign of delibitating confidence of this important stock in the industry due to the long years of factional war in the association.
They however urged the Emenike Nwokeoji-led executive council to work assiduously in order to restore the fading glory of ANLCA.
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