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Freight Monitor

NAGAFF raises alarm over attempt by ‘moneybags’ to hijack CRFFN elections

Boniface Aniebonam, NAGAFF Founder
—-accuses them of registering mercenaries to rig elections
Eyewitness reporter

The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has raised the alarm over alleged recruitment and registration of mercenaries by people it described as “money bags” as freight forwarders to rig the October elections into the governing board of  Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).

In a petition signed by the General Secretary of the association, Mr Dipo Olayoku and sent to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi, NAGAFF said that this formed part of many abnormalities that may impede free and fair elections into the council.
In the petition, obtained by our correspondent, the group also claimed that the short time frame for the elections is another danger signal that may not allow credible candidates to emerge from the exercise.
 It, therefore, suggested three- months time frame to enable the candidates to have proper preparation for the conduct of the elections.
“The extension will enable a joint stakeholders meeting involving the Electoral Committee and other critical participants in the CRFFN family, especially the five registered associations to cross-fertilize ideas on how to fine-tune the process for the CRFFN Governing Board’s election for a better result”
Rotimi Amaechi
Speaking on the venue for the elections, NAGAFF advised the Minister, who is also the Chairman of the Electoral Committee, to take a second look and reconsider that the election is moved to Lagos for obvious security reasons, the strength of the population of Lagos-based stakeholders, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While we appreciate the powers of the Committee to fix date and venue for elections, we are however compelled to suggest that the election be moved to Lagos for obvious reasons.

” It is on record that about 85% of cargo clearance is carried out in the Western Ports. In other words, the bulk of freight forwarders are domiciled in South-Western Nigeria.
“The consequences of moving this huge number of people to Abuja might be too enormous on the infrastructural facilities of the country as well as the safety and security of the voters.

“We are making this suggestion in the face of the deplorable state of the roads and the security situation in the country.

” While praising the efforts of Government and security agents in bringing the situation under control, we believe Nigerians should reduce the rate of exposing themselves to danger, especially long travels on the highways. We are also conscious of the devastating consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic”

The association however suggested that any fresh registration after the announcement of the Guidelines for the election is barred from voting.

“This will ensure that only Freight Forwarders are eligible to vote in this election. Again, we make reference to INEC and elections.
“Registration to vote in an election has a time limit and no registration is allowed after a certain time for a particular election”

NAGAFF also drew the attention of the Minister to some technical challenges faced by freight forwarders in the ongoing validation of membership status stating that this can hamper a free, fair, and credible election.

“We have received tons of complaints about the discrepancies in the membership list. In essence, those members who have registered under the Individual category are being placed under Executive, a situation CRFFN officials blame on their Portal.

” What that means is that something is wrong with the system and this brings to question the credibility of the data generated by such computer.
“All these issues might take some time to resolve, to engender free, fair and credible election”
It could be recalled that NAGAFF has lined up 10 members to vie for the council elections, vowing to grab 10 seats from the 15 seats allotted to freight forwarders in the 32- member governing board.
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Freight Monitor

My comments on anti-trade practices of some freight forwarders misconstrued—-Tanko

Tanko Ibrahim
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Freight Monitor

CRFFN member tackles Tanko over claims that freight forwarders are corrupt

Princess Chi Ezeh, NAGAFF Chieftain
—- says claims are false, blackmail, self-serving
Eyewitness reporter
Two frontline members of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and incidentally members of the fourth governing board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN), Princess Chi Ezeh and Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, have disagreed over the conduct and professional integrity of freight Nigerian forwarders.
While Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko believed that freight forwarders, of which he is one of their stocks, are corrupt and wilfully connive with Customs officers to circumvent the new Vehicles Identification Number (VIN) valuation policy in order to cheat the federal government of its revenue, Princess Chi Ezeh holds contrary views, saying freight forwarding is an ethical profession which is an integral part of value chains in the transport industry.
Recall that Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko had declared that freight forwarders evade customs duties with the collaboration of corrupt customs officers through the manipulation of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR), stating that “most freight forwarders have started cutting corners by conniving with valuation officers and releasing officers to get the ex-factory price as value payable on used vehicles.”
Princess Ezeh, the only female member on the fourth governing board of the CRFFN,  however, took a swipe at Alhaji Tanko, the National Coordinator of NAGAFF’s Compliance team, over his comments, saying they were self-serving, meant to gain cheap publicity and blackmail government agencies.
She said that the fourth CRFFN board, of which the two contending NAGAFF members are part, is concerned about effectively regulating freight forwarding in a bid to stop the practice of using false statements to gain popularity or blackmail government agencies.
“In my professional opinion, condemning freight forwarders because of PAAR is wrong because PAAR isn’t the final document for clearing cargoes.
“It is advisory as the cargoes and the accompanying declarations are further subjected to either physical or documentary checks at the ports.
“CRFFN is concerned about correcting this wrong perception about freight forwarders,” she said.

According to Chi Ezeh, PAAR as it is, is a function of valuation principles based on general agreement on Trade and Tariffs, quality and quantity of the items, and even the application of rules of origin.

She condemned what she described as the de-marketing efforts of Alhaji Tanko which she believed negatively affect the image of the freight forwarding profession in particular and the maritime industry in general in the eye of the international community.
She also condemned the act that she described as unpatriotic and capable of undermining  Nigeria’s Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).

Chi Ezeh further disclosed that the industry practitioners are professionals for whom such a blanket label of unethical conduct is not only false but unpatriotic.

She said the cargo clearing system is a chain involving many agencies, all of whom ensure that best practices are applied in cargo handling towards Customs revenue generation and national security.

Chi Ezeh who is also the Vice President in-charge of seaports at the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), stressed that every ex-factory price given in valuation is always approved by the Customs Area Controller while the physical examination is conducted for vehicle declarations by Customs and all other approved government agencies in the ports.

She posited that it is not possible for all the agencies involved in cargo clearance to standby and allow the false allegations raised in the publication.

“Freight forwarding is an ethical profession where the practitioners have high-level integrity.

“Like the profession of doctors, accountants, lawyers, among others; there are ethics, principles, and standards.
“I totally disagree with the insinuation that all freight forwarders are corrupt.
“We are an integral part of the national economy who contribute greatly to the economic and physical security of the nation through the huge revenue profile announced by customs annually.”

“The truth is that these cargoes are being examined. So, does this mean that everyone in the entire supply chain is corrupt?

“If Customs is being accused of corruption in connivance with freight forwarders, how about the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and other agencies because examination of cargoes isn’t done by Customs alone.
“So, this accusation is wrong and demarkets freight forwarding as well as the entire players in the industry,” Chi Ezeh said.
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Freight Monitor

Stakeholder calls out Amaechi to account for millions of Naira in remittances made by freight forwarders under CRFFN.

Segun Musa
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