As Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation is intensifying his campaign to be the next President of Nigeria, an aggrieved stakeholder in the maritime industry, Segun Musa, has called the APC presidential aspirant out to account for millions of naira remitted by Freight Forwarders under the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding practice in Nigeria(CRFFN) which is under the supervision of his ministry.
Musa, a frontline freight forwarder and former Chairman of the Airport chapter of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), claimed that freight forwarders, since the inception of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN) in 2007 and as stipulated by the Council Act, have been making annual remittances to the Federal Government through the ministry of Transportation in terms of annual dues and membership subscriptions of the CRFFN,
The concerned stakeholder further alleged that these monies, which have run into several millions of naira, are yet to be accounted for.
Musa further alleged that the amount accrued from the remittances made by freight forwarding companies and individual freight forwarders, may have been mismanaged, hence his call for accountability.
“We are soliciting the support of all well-meaning Nigerians and other stakeholders to call on the Ministry of Transportation to respect the FOI Act and give details of total collections from individual and corporate annual dues from the inception of the CRFFN Act and explain how it has been utilised as well as the law that backed up the usage.
“The critical stakeholders in the transport subsector are suspicious of possible mismanagement of the public funds tagged (annual dues) contributed by freight forwarders into the coffers of the Federal Government under the supervision of the Ministry of Transportation.
“The reports in circulation indicate that the Ministry of Transportation has mismanaged hundreds of millions in naira so far contributed by freight forwarders as the stipulated dues in line with the Act that established the CRFFN from their income aside from statutory taxes deductibles.
“The law compelled every freight forwarding company to pay a stipulated amount as dues annually as well as every individual staff of the companies to remain in practice.
“Despite the inconvenience due to the global economic meltdown and slowdowns in business as well as the biting inflation impacts, members of the freight forwarding industry complied with the directives as enshrined in the law” he noted.
Musa expressed regret that despite the statutory obligations of the CRFFN board to use this amount accrued from the annual dues and subscription to train freight forwarders, all the training so far organised by the Council were fully paid for by freight forwarders themselves except very few that were free.
“It is sad to note that the essence of compliance is due to the fact that the revenues pool would be deployed to build members’ capacity to meet global standards and position them to participate in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.
“It is most unfortunate that all the training organised so far were paid for in full by stakeholders aside from few that came as free” he declared.
Musa, therefore, expressed reservation over the collection of the controversial Practitioner Operating Fee(POF) made compulsory to be paid by freight forwarders and sanctioned by the Ministry of Transportation despite several millions of annual remittances that are yet to be accounted for.
“The alleged mismanagement of public funds contributed by freight forwarders came as a result of the same Ministry of Transportation that has not accounted for the hundreds of millions in naira contributed so far aside government allocations and subvention, now demanding for revenues from every imported shipment into the country tagged Practitioner Operating Fee (POF).
“This simply means regardless of membership annual subscriptions or dues paid, aside the Customs license renewed with lots of money, aside customs duties, shipping companies charges and terminal charges, you will still have to pay something similar to customs duty to the Ministry of Transport before imported goods will be allowed to exit the ports”
The NAGAFF chieftain, while lamenting the plethora of charges imposed on freight forwarders in a stifling economy, said this has made Nigerian ports non- user friendly .
“This is the kind of policy that has made our ports not to be business-friendly and has been encouraging manufacturers to exit our country as well forcing importers to patronise the neighboring ports.
“This policy is not only strange to International best practices but also strange to any economic ideology targeted at adding any kind of values to any sector of the economy.
“We hereby implore our strategic partners to help in calling out the Honorable Minister for Transportation to come and account for what we have contributed to the pool under his supervision, how it has been utilised and as a matter of responsibility, jettison the idea of POF because it is an intellectual fraud targeted to further impoverish the innocent Nigerians” Musa further alleged,
Freight forwarders demand report of probe panel on large scale corruption in CRFFN
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.
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.”
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.
“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”
Freight forwarder cries out over heightened insecurity at Lagos ports
—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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