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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

Customs offers hands of fellowship to new ANLCA leadership , as Adeniyi congratulates Nwokeoji on his election

The Eyewitness Reporter
The Acting Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Adewale Adeniyi, has expressed the willingness of the Service to collaborate with the new leadership of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) under the leadership of Emenike Nwokeoji, in a bid to advance the customs brokerage sector and promote the interests of customs agents throughout Nigeria.
In his congratulatory message to the new ANLCA president, Adeniyi said his election was a reflection of the confidence the members of the association have in him.
While lauding the noble role that members of the Customs Consultative Council played in brokering peace in the war-torn association which eventually led to the conduct of a peaceful election, the customs boss said he was eagerly waiting for a productive partnership with the association.
Adeniyi however expressed confidence that Mr. Nwokeoji will provide solid and visionary leadership to ANLCA while working closely with the Nigeria Customs Service to enhance the collaboration between the two organizations.
“On behalf of the officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service, the Acting Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi congratulates Mr Emenike Nwokeoji on his election as the National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA)”
After five years of bickering and bitter rivalry that polarised the oldest freight forwarding group in Nigeria into factions, including several botched attempts to broker a truce, the much elusive peace eventually located the troubled association on September 7th, 2023, when an election, which outcome was accepted by all the factions, was held and Nwokeoji emerged as the president of the unified ANLCA.
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Freight Monitor

Freight Forwarders threaten to shut down ports over alarming rate of extortions by maritime police.

Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun
The Eyewitness Reporter
The freight forwarders plying their trade at the Lagos ports are currently in a restive mood over what they claimed was the barefaced extortions, harassment, and intimidation by the maritime police.
The aggrieved customs brokers, in their petition to the new Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, have therefore threatened to withdraw their services if the excesses of these police officers are not checked.
In a four-page protest letter signed by Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim, the National Coordinator of the 100 percent Compliance team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF),  addressed to the IGP and dated August 22, 2023, the irate customs brokers said the activities of these police officers have considerably impeded facilitation of trade.
In the petition, Tanko Ibrahim, who is also an elected member of the governing board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN), claimed these officers, in connivance with the shipping companies, indiscriminately stop and detain exited containers from the ports with the purpose of extorting money from the owners.
Tanko, who said these extortionist activities of the police were curtailed under the past administration of police IG due to the outcry of the oppressed freight forwarders, lamented that the menace has now resurgent with new vigour, as the police now carry out their extortions in the open.
“Since the advent of the new administration, the officers and men of the Maritime Police have not only resumed these activities but also even more daring.
“They do not only block the release of containers from shipping companies, but they also arrest and detain containers on the roads, and even allegedly go into fisticuffs with the officers of the Federal Operations Unit of the Nigerian Customs Service”
The petitioners however fingered one of the officers whom they said was daring and boastful of his nefarious activities.
“To compound and confound the matter, one of their officers, named Superintendent Kenneth  Uwakool, who has been at Kam Salem House for more than three years, when the rapprochement was reached during the last administration, is the unrepentant bagman, who openly boasts that he is a millionaire.
“He sits atop proceedings in the extortion business’ the petitioners declared.
In the petition, each copy of which was sent to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, members of the National Assembly, and all the security agencies, Tanko Ibrahim, who ventilated the foul mood of the angry freight forwarders, claimed that the marauding police officers collect as high as N2m to N3m from their victims on each container before they let them go.
The petitioners wondered where were these officers when the Customs, in collaboration with other sister agencies, arrest containers with drugs, arms, and ammunition, accusing them of looking the other way while these illicit goods are being ferried away understand their noses.
He however appealed for prompt intervention of the new IGP in order to calm the frayed nerves of the harassed freight forwarders to starve off an impending showdown with the extortionist police officers.
“We, therefore, respectfully urge you, sir, to call the Maritime Police to order and save the ports from an imminent restiveness that may paralyze business activities and further cause economic loss to government revenue.
“We may have no option than to go on protest which may result in a possible shutdown of the seaports” the aggrieved freight forwarders threatened.
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Freight Monitor

Abuja peace accord: Customs Consultative Council to supervise ANLCA elections in August.

— As ASECO, BOT members without valid operating customs licenses to be removed
The eyewitness Reporter
In yet another effort to realign the recalcitrant two factions of the Association of Nigerian Licenced Customs Agents (ANLCA) that have held the association hostage in a protracted ego war, the Customs Consultative Council(CCC) has brokered what seemed like a truce between the two warring parties.
The one brokered by the CRFFN some months ago has collapsed.
At a peace meeting convened by the CCC in Abuja, Wednesday 19th July 2023, members of the peace council, made up of Customs representatives, retired Customs officers,and past National Presidents of ANLCA, the council made far-reaching decisions that it hoped would restore lasting peace to the troubled association.
Part of the resolutions made includes the vacation of office by Kayode Farinto, the Acting President of ANLCA and other NECOM members within the next two weeks of the meeting while the BOT takes over the running of the association till the election holds before the end of August.
The meeting also adopted the 2013 Constitution of ANLCA while jettisoning the other two controversial constitutions of the two warring parties.
The adopted constitution was the one midwifed by the former ANLCA president, Prince Olayiwola Shittu.
It was also agreed that members of ASECO and BOT whose practicing licenses are suspect or could not be verified by the Nigeria Customs Service would be dropped from their positions.
The BOT and ASECO are to conduct and supervise the election not later than the end of August while the CCC will be an observer.
 The structure fashioned out by the CRFFN during its own peace accord meeting would be adopted which created a unified BOT that comprises equal numbers of both warring factions but with the caveat that the BOT election be held immediately after the NECOM election.
The peace council advised that character/ Integrity and Capacity should be the criteria for choosing leaders for the elective positions in ANLCA.
The council also warned aspirants to conduct themselves with a high sense of integrity and maturity and educate their followers and supporters.
It also mandated that the BOT chairman and the vice chairman to issue a joint press release to enlighten members on the accord reached.
 The CCC offered to host a post-Election Dinner in Lagos.

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