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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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Freight Monitor

Fresh cracks in ANLCA widens as Emeka Igwe tackles Mustapha, accuses him of being an interloper

“As a leader, I mustn’t be the one to truncate the peace in ANLCA–Mustapha
The Eyewitness Reporter
The new vista of crisis in the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents(ANLCA), sparked off by the sudden resignation of Nze Aloy Emeka Igwe as the chairman of the Association Election Committee (ASECO), seems to be festering.
The resumed hostilities in the association, six months after a fragile peace was brokered following the factionalized elections in September, are assuming a new dimension as Emeka Igwe had pointedly accused Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of ANLCA, of stoking the fresh crisis.
In his expanded reasons for his resignation, Igwe said he had to leave when the atmosphere was becoming suffocating and toxic.
He accused Mustapha of behaving like a tin god in ANLCA by virtue of his position as the BOT chairman, wilfully usurping the powers of the President of the association.
In an apparent response to the allegation of lack of accountability leveled by Mustapha against the former ASECO Chairman, Emeka Igwe said the BOT Chairman lied in a bid to frustrate him out as ASECO Chairman to pursue his personal political agenda.
“My resignation as ASECO Chairman is as a result of the suffocating foul air in the association.
“The BOT Chairman thinks he is the law and order in ANLCA.
“He does not obey simple rules, he does not understand the provision of the ANLCA Constitution as concerns BOT.
“He does not understand how the association should be run. He is hell-bent on usurping powers he does not have.
” His attitude is annoying and that was why I quietly decided to leave without making noise about it.
” Unfortunately, he thinks that the best way to harm me is to bring allegation that I did not render an account of my stewardship as ASECO Chairman” the former ASECO Chairman thundered.
Igwe accused Mustapha of attempting to perpetuate himself as the BOT Chairman as he was afraid to face free and fear elections which ASECO under his leadership will conduct, hence his(Mustapha) political maneuvering to ease him out.
“It is important to state that at a meeting supervised by the regulatory body – CRFFN at Eko Hotels that 8 members of BOT, 4 from each faction and 8 members of ASECO, 4 members from each faction were appointed.
” The arrangement was for ASECO to organize the NECOM election first and the BOT election a month after.
“But after the NECOM election, it seems that some BOT members are afraid to face AGM for election.
” They, especially the Chairman, have been playing games and tinkering with the idea of dissolving ASECO which was appointed just like them.
“He has no such powers. The arrangement was not for BOT to remain there in perpetuity. They were not elected.
“Mustapha’s fear is understandable because if the level of transparency and fairness exhibited at the NECOM election last September is applied, someone like him won’t return elected.
“The overwhelming majority of ANLCA members and even his colleagues are sick of his penchant to act as if he is the National President.
“So he is desirous to put a Chairman of ASECO that will return him elected and if you don’t like it… Go to Court” Igwe alleged.
He further alleged that the BOT Chairman, who he said is less than 10 years in ANLCA, thrives and feeds on crisis.
“Alhaji Mustapha is less than 10 years in ANLCA and he has refused to learn the ropes.
“He feasts on crisis and whenever there seems to be peace, he creates crisis.
“I decided to leave and I submitted my resignation letter quietly without involving anyone or the Press and NECOM accepted my resignation, thanked me for my services and wished me well in future endeavours.
” But Mustapha took it from there and brought false allegations against me.
“It is clear that the problem we have in ANLCA is Alhaji Mustapha because ever since he joined BOT, he has stuck to the Chairmanship position as if his life depended on it.
” You can see that he is the one throwing evil narrative to the public because he knows that his continued Chairmanship of BOT is illegal and the only way he can sustain that is to create a crisis and that was basically why I resigned.
“The man feeds on crisis and this crisis he has regenerated, let’s hope ANLCA will come out of it stronger.
” I don’t think that stakeholders will fold their hands and watch a greenhorn who knows very little about ANLCA to bring the Association to ruin and disrepute” the former ASECO Chairman declared.
He however put a lie to the narrative made by Mustapha that he, Igwe, as the chairman of ASECO, failed to render account of his stewardship.
The BOT Chairman had accused the former ASECO Chairman of ignoring several calls for accountability.
But in a swift reaction in his statement titled ” The Evil Narrative In The Eyes Of Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha”, Igwe said Mustapha’s allegation is tantamount to giving a dog a bad name to hang it.
“My attention has been drawn to a publication of an online outlet wherein the BOT Chairman of ANLCA alleged that I failed to give a report/account of the NECOM election of September 2023.
“The allegation is totally false and should be disregarded by the general public. I will come back to that shortly.
“The allegation that evil narrative was thrown at journalist presumably by me is equally false and unfounded.
“My resignation letter was addressed to the National President of ANLCA in the form of an internal memo.
“It was not released to the press and up till this moment I have not spoken to any journalist.
“It is NECOM that chose to accept my resignation letter in the form of a Press Statement in which they equally released my resignation letter to the public.
“The challenge ASECO had was various postponements that affected logistics hence the supplementary budget.
” Having said that, immediately after the inauguration of the new NECOM on 23rd November 2023, we met and reconciled the account which we submitted alongside the report to the National President and copied the BOT.
“So the account Alhaji Mustapha claimed we did not submit should be with him.
“The National Secretary received and acknowledged our report on behalf of NECOM.
” The acknowledged copy is hereby attached for our perusal.
“Record of all expenses as disbursed to each ASECO member and the purpose for the disbursement are fully captured and attached to the report.
“All members of ASECO consented to the report.
“Moreover, the budget for election and supplementary budget therein was sent to BOT which they exhaustively scrutinised and approved before releasing funds to ASECO.
“We religiously adhered to the budget. Hence our report is in compliance and fulfillment of our adherence to due diligence and accountability.
“Being ASECO Chairman was not a job I jumped to. Stakeholders wanted me to be there because they were convinced that I would be neutral, fair and just to all irrespective of faction or divide as it then was in ANLCA.
” I rose from the ranks in ANLCA, from Chapter EXCO member to Vice Chairman and eventually the Chairman of MMA Cargo Chapter.
” My antecedents are there, my impact on the association is well known to all.
“The contribution of my Chapter under my watch to the acquisition of the National Secretariat is still fresh in the memory of my professional colleagues” Igwe explained.
When contacted, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha said he had worked tirelessly for the peace which the ANLCA is now enjoying and will not be the one to truncate it.
He however said he would not banter words with anyone in this issue and to his, as far as he was concerned, the matter is closed.
 “I have worked hard along with good-spirited individuals in our industry to return ANLCA  back to this peaceful level.
“As a leader, I mustn’t be the one to truncate the same peace.
” I have received a lot of misleading stories about me in the past when the crisis was on.
“So I will never react on this one. All I know is that I have no reason to twist any story or lie against any of our members.
” So I apologise to our members who feel threatened by this new development.
” I can assure you ANLCA is not going back to the dungeon. We will not allow the fifth columnists to derail us.

” The booby trap has been detonated. I appeal to journalists to be more professionals. So that chapter is closed”, the ANLCA BOT Chairman concluded with a note of finality.

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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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