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Freight Monitor

Freight forwarders flay compromised posture of government agencies in containment of unfair trade practices of  shipping companies

Ibrahim Tanko

 

Eyewitness reporter
Freight Forwarders, who ply their trade at the Lagos ports, have accused the Council for the Registration of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN), Nigerian Shippers’Council and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) of a sell-out in the struggle to have fair trade practices with the shipping companies.
It would be recalled that the amalgam of the freight forwarders from the National Government Approved  Freight Forwarders(NAGAFF) and the Association of Nigerian  Licensed Customs  Agents (ANLCA)  has engaged the predominantly foreign shipping companies over operational issues of extortion, indiscriminate and arbitrary charges.
In the course of the trade dispute, the angry freight forwarders had twice issued notices of service withdrawal if their grievances were not met.
However, in order to stave off service disruption, the CRFFN, in collaboration with the Shippers Council and NPA, had called for a truce by calling for a peace meeting between the two warring parties.
Unfortunately, the peace meeting was deadlocked.
However, the freight forwarders have accused the three government agencies of high level of insincerity and deceit over their mediatory roles in the conflict.
Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim, the National Coordinator of the 100 percent compliance team of NAGAFF, who is one of the leaders of the protesting Customs brokers, lamented that the three agencies have abandoned the freight forwarders in their struggle with the shipping companies.
While ventilating the feelings of the aggrieved freight forwarders, Ibrahim accused the three agencies of grandstanding and playing the ostrich.
“We trusted them ( the three agencies) before and that was why we listened to them when they called for a truce.
“But event in recent times and the body language of the officials of these agencies have demonstrated their insincerity and deceit.
“We do not trust them anymore as they have abandoned us in the hours of our struggle and betrayed the trust we had in them” Alhaji Tanko lamented.
He alleged that the agencies may have been compromised for them to look the other way while the foreign agents are milking the Nigerian freight forwarders through unbridled extortions and arbitrary charges.
Tanko further disclosed that the attitude of the three regulatory agencies, which he said are supposed to protect the interests of customs brokers, has further emboldened the shipping companies in their exploitative practices which he lamented, are being perpetrated with undisguised impunity.
“Maybe the three government agencies are enjoying the problems we are going through. If not, they should do something before something gives” he warned.
Tanko declared that the level of disenchantment among the freight forwarders is so high that if the leadership should ask them to give vent to their anger, a lot of harm could be unleashed on port businesses.
“That is why the leadership of the freight forwarders is still managing the situation by not allowing them to disrupt port operations through strike action.
“We know the maritime business is very critical to the economic well being of the country, therefore we are still showing restraint despite the compromised posture of those whose statutory duties are to protect us.
“We are still pursuing the path of peace through continuous dialogue not because we are afraid to make good our threat to go on strike but because of the responsible leadership which does not wish to hurt the economy and the people we lead” Tanko claimed.
He however warned that if the relevant agencies of government fail to call the recalcitrant shipping companies to order in their punitive operational practices, the leadership of the freight forwarders may be left with no other option than to call the restive freight forwarders out on strike.
“It is not over until it is over. The struggle continues but we may not be able to contain the agitations of the oppressed freight forwarders much longer if the impunity of the shipping companies is not quickly checked” the NAGAFF chieftain declared in an ominous tone
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Freight Monitor

Freight forwarders demand report of probe panel on large scale corruption in  CRFFN 

 

The eyewitness reporter
Agitating freight forwarders have asked the Minister of Transportation, Engr. Mu’azu Sambo, to make public the report of the probe panel that the ministry instituted in 2020 to look into alleged large-scale corruption in the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
 The freight forwarders, under the aegis of Africa Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), recalled in their petition to Engr. Sambo that top management staff of the CRFFN, including the Deputy Director, Finance and Accounts, Dr. Abah George; Head of Internal Audit, Mr. Agor Gideon; Head of Research and Development, Mr. Leo Anigbo; Head of Administration/ Human Resources, Mr. Ben Ojumah; and the Head of Corporate Affairs, Mrs. Chinyere Uromta, petitioned the Chairman of the Governing Council of CRFFN and the Ministry of Transportation in August 20th, 2020 over unprecedented corruption charges and mindless misappropriation of funds of the council by its Registrar, Barr Samuel Nwakohu.
According to the President of APFFLON, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, in his letter to Engr. Sambo with reference number
APFFLON/HQ/FMT/Vol:2.22, dated 9th of September 2022, the CRFFN Registrar had been accused of serial corruption charges.

Speaking on the alleged misappropriation of funds by the CRFFN’s Registrar, Otunba Ogunojemite said, “The Registrar was alleged of employing 13 ghost workers, seized workers allowances in excess of N15million and other financial misappropriation.

“He was said to have single-handedly organized a fake training for selected CRFFN officials that cost N109million.

” Furthermore, aggrieved members of staff of the Council revealed all these in a petition sent to
the Chairman of the Governing Council of CRFFN and the Ministry of Transportation, as they accused the CRFFN’s Registrar of several financial misappropriations and discrimination against
men.“Following the top issues of serious illegalities raised in the petition, the Transportation Ministry interrogated the CRFFN Registrar and the maritime public demand that the findings of the
Transport Ministry be publicized because we are aware that Mr. Muhiy-deen Awwal, Director, Human Resources Management, Ministry of Transportation headed a Committee that concluded a report on this matter.”

The APFFLON President also raised the alarm over the sharing of the proceeds from the collection of the controversial Practitioners Operations Fee (POF) among only five registered freight forwarding associations in exclusion of other individual and corporate members who also pay this POF.

He appealed to the Minister to intervene and correct what he described as discrimination and injustice before it leads to agitation among those that are being cheated.

“Though the CRFFN Act recognizes three categories of membership; which are associations, corporate bodies and individuals, officials of the Transport Ministry and the CRFFN have over the years, only recognized, visited and engaged CRFFN so-called registered associations without any provision for individual members and corporate bodies.
“It has become worrisome that all CRFFN functions and programs have seen the Council only invite freight forwarding associations, hence, leaving individuals and companies out of the crucial deliberations that affect all membership categories.”

“Presently, the CRFFN has started sharing the proceeds of the Practitioners Operations Fee (POF) with only five registered associations at the rate of N200,000, thereby leaving out the individuals and corporate organizations.

“The associations benefiting are; the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA); National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF); Association of Registered Freight Forwarders (AREFFN); Nigerian Airfreight Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC) and National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA)”

He however, pointed out that the above mentioned five associations represent less than 40 percent of the entire freight forwarders in the country.

“It should be noted that individuals and companies pay the said POF, yet there is no platform for these categories of legitimate CRFFN registered individuals and corporate bodies to benefit from the POF that the CRFFN has been sharing among the monopolistic associations parading themselves as registered associations.”

“This continuous marginalization of CRFFN registered individual and corporate members is stoking a high degree of dissent that could evolve into a protest against CRFFN in the nearest future, even as it is a grossly illegal act that would soon land the agency in a litany of litigations”

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Freight Monitor

Freight forwarder cries out over heightened insecurity at Lagos  ports

Ibrahim Tanko

—says miscreants, robbers now invade APMT

— laments high non-compliance among freight forwarders

The Eyewitness Reporter

 

One of the foremost freight forwarders in the maritime industry and the Chairman of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders( NAGAFF) 100 percent Compliance team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, has raised the alarm about what he described as burgeoning cases of insecurity at the Lagos ports.

According to him, undesirables elements such as robbers, beggars and other social miscreants, have now invaded the ports, sleeping and smoking Indian helms at the terminals.

Tanko, who is also the Vice-President, Western Zone of NAGAFF, made this startling revelation Thursday at the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria(MARAN) round table, a talk- show programme for industry players.

At the programme, Tanko lamented unrestricted access of these criminals into the ports despite the so-called multi-layer security mechanism of the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA), Nigeria Port Police, the Customs and the terminal operators.

He specifically fingered the AP Mollers Terminal as the worst hit as the terminal has been literally turned into a marketplace.

”I have once written  letters to the Customs Area Controllers at Apapa, Tin Can and PTML commands over this issue but there seems no solution to the problem.

”If you go to the AMPT, Apapa, the place is like a market. There is too much crowd. Yo don’t even know who is who in that place.

”People sleeping and smoking Indian hemp at the APMT. The Terminal has become a haven for criminals and street urchins who molest genuine port operators in the terminal

Tanko further disclosed that these undesirable elements often trail their victims from inside the terminal till they reach outside the port before they strike, dispossessing them of their valuables and in few cases, killing them.

”There was a sad case of an agent who was trailed by these robbers right from inside the APMT terminal till they got outside the port where they robbed and killed him.

”In the process of robbing and killing their victim, the ID card of one of the robbers fell down which the police recovered.

”This led them to the criminal who confessed that they trailed their victim from inside the APMT.

”This shows the level of insecurity at the APMT terminal”, lamented the freight forwarder.

He therefore appealed to the Nigerian Ports police, the NPA and the Customs to tighten security at the ports because, ”as its is now , we are no longer safe doing our business at the ports”

He queried how those who have no business at the port could easily gain access into a place where is supposed to be a restricted area.

On the issue of extortion and harassment of freight foewarders by the Cutoms officers, Tanko blamed the audacity of the Customs to perpetrate this henious act on the high level of non-compliance among his fellow freight forwarders.

Tanko lamented that despite the efforts of the NAGAFF compliance team to stem the tide, non- compliance of freight forwarders to exant laws guiding  cargo clearing process is still very high.

”This issue of non- compliance is affecting genuine freight forwarders. On daily basis, our containers are being seized on the road by various units of Customs.

”Federal Operation Unit(FOU) of Customs , CG strike Force and Customs Police, at different points on the road, harrass and seize our containers.

He said all these atrocious acts are being visited on freight forwarders because they are not doing the right thing.

Tanko said that in as much as he was not holding brief for the Customs or justifying their acts of impunity, he blamed the non-compliant freight forwarders for their woes.

He said no Customs officer will first ask for money but the fright forwarder who refuses to do the right thing will instead induce the officers with money in order to cover his atrocities.

The NAGAFF chieftain declared that despite the appeal and campaign of his compliance team, which they started two years ago, the level of compliance among the freight agents is still less than 30 percent.

He said the benefits for doing the right thing far outweigh cutting the corners ”as nobody will be able to extort or harrass you, neither will they be able to seize your containers”.

”If you make correct declaration and pay correct duties, nobody will be able to extort you, harrass you, threaten you with Demand Notice or even seize your containers. You will go home and sleep soundly.

”You could even sue them if they dare seize your container in error”, Tanko admonished.

Tanko lamented that those of them in the compliance team are being witch-hunted, threatened and branded as enemies and saboteurs.

He however enjoined freight forwarders to always do the right things in order to safe themselves from the incessant harassment of the Customs officers.

 

 

 

 

 

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Freight Monitor

Freight Forwarders may drag GTB to EFCC over financial infraction

—– threaten to suspend operations with GTB 
—claim over N20bn loss to demurrage, storage charges
The Eyewitness reporter 
The Freight Forwarders, plying their trade at the Nigerian Ports, have threatened to drag the Guarantee Trust Bank(GTB) to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) for the failure of the back to remit an undisclosed sum of money it collected as duty payment on behalf of the Nigeria Customs Service.
 It could be recalled that GTB was suspended from the Customs duty collection scheme over this financial infraction.
The National Public Relations Officer NCS, Deputy Comptroller Timi Bomodi had said the bank was on temporary suspension on orders of the National Assembly.
However, Kayode Farinto, the Acting President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), said the customs brokers may be forced to suspend their operations with the bank following its suspension from the collection of duties on imported cargoes at Nigerian ports.
In a chat with our correspondent, Farinto confirmed that the bank was suspended owing to non -the remittance of money collected from clearing agents on behalf of the federal government.
He said the act was a criminal offence, as he threatened that the customs brokers may be forced to invite the EFCC to look into the issue.
He informed that following the suspension of the bank, over 20 Billion has been lost while adding that if by Monday the issue is not resolved, the customs brokers will stage a 1000 walk to the bank’s corporate headquarters in Lagos.
According to him “We need to correct this impression because GT bank has succeeded in feeding the public with false news.
” What we noticed is a financial shenanigan on the part of the bank. It is not even customs that suspended them, it was a directive from the National Assembly based on investigation and what it translates to is that in the course of reconciliation, GT bank has not remitted some large amount of money to the federation account and they have collected it on behalf of the federal government and that is a criminal offense and that is why we will be inviting the EFCC to come into this issue.
“Enough of making Nigerian importers and freight forwarders suffer unnecessarily and that is why we are not going to take it likely.
“If by Monday, they are not called back into the system, we are going to make sure that by Tuesday morning, we will call our freight forwarders not to do transactions with GT bank again, they should close their account.
” We will make sure we mobilize more than 1000 freight forwarders to go to their corporate headquarters.
“This has impacted negatively on the economy of the country.
“As we discuss, consignments that have collected their Form M and have their PAAR through GT bank are unable to move forward, they are stalled and likewise vehicles that have made their assessment because they have been suspended from finance in the system.
“This is a very big loss to us because demurrages and storage are accumulated.
“We are calling on all our chairmen in all the ports to collate all demurrages, transactions that have to do with GT bank.
“We are going to send a letter to EFCC  to investigate this and in the national interest, let the world know that this is financial indiscipline and they should go down for it.
” Unfortunately, I was told that some directors in CBN should be guilty, if a bank collects duty and charges on behalf of the nation and that money is not remitted, it is the responsibility of CBN to make sure that there is financial discipline on that commercial bank and this has not been done, and we are not sure if those remittances were done, it could even be they’ve not done any remittance since last year or even six months ago.
“This is criminal and an act of sabotage in line with the Act that establishes EFCC, it is their responsibility to dabble into this issue and investigate it and let us know what is happening,” he said.
When asked to quantify the loss of freight forwarders, he said “If we want to qualify the financial loss accrued, there is no way it will be less than N20 billion because if you want to look at it, you look at the issue of storage, demurrage and the inconveniences that people will not be able to carry their cargo.
“And some of these cargoes may be on loan and the loan will be running , so it can’t be less than N20billion.
“We appreciate the National Assembly for this and appeal to NCS to look for a solution in the interest of trade facilitation.
” It becomes exigent on their part to do that,
“We are not saying that they should cancel assessments done, there should be a bypass on how the problem can be solved in the interim pending when it is resolved.
“We will be calling on importers, for now, to discontinue any service or transaction with GT bank until the issue is resolved and until we know what actually transpired.
“We are also calling on the National Assembly to let us know how many banks that are culpable in the area of this financial irregularities and indiscipline,” he said.
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