—– 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.