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Freight Monitor

CRFFN laments low revenue from POF

—engages terminal operators to boost enforcement, compliance level
—-alleges underpayment, fraud in payment system.
— raises team to visit terminals for record reconciliation
The eyewitness reporter
The Council for Regulation of Freight forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN), has expressed worries over the continued dip in its revenue from the Practitioners’ Operating fees(POF).
POF is the internally generated revenue for the council accrued from charges on imported cargo into the country.
It was backed by an Act of Parliament as contained in the CRFFN Act of 2007, section 6  as well as FEC approval.
Initiated in 2021 but officially took off in March 2021, the POF is meant to shore up the revenue base of the council to carry out its statutory responsibilities.
However, two years after its official takeoff, the CRFFN is troubled by the low compliance level of freight forwarders and abysmal enforcement by the terminals operators who are the statutory collectors on behalf of the CRFFN.
However, to shore up the dwindling level of revenue from the POF and ensure high enforcement and compliance level by the terminals operators and freight forwarders, the CRFFN  has engaged the operators on the need to identify the challenges bedeviling the collection of the fees.
At a two-day town hall meeting with the terminal operators in Lagos on the 3rd – 4th, of April 2023, the CRFFN complained about the low compliance and enforcement level among the terminal operators.
According to Mrs. Chinyere Uromta, the Acting Registrar and CEO of the CRFFN, the money being generated from the POF is very low due to poor enforcement level by the terminal operators.
“The revenue we are generating from POF is very low. It wasn’t as easy as we thought initially.
”While some terminal operators have fully commenced enforcement of POF, we have others who are yet to officially commence.
The CRFFN boss, who went through the layers of approvals, agreements and Memorandum of Understanding ( MOU) signed with the terminal operators to kick start the collection of the fees, lamented the hitches and challenges which have bedeviled the payment and collection system.
“Our technical partners on our request provided two important means of POF verification system for terminal operators which are all computer-based.
“These are Full API Integration and Account Access.
”As much as we preferred that all terminals use the first option, the majority is on the second option which is manual and involves human interface.
”This is one the reasons we are here to discuss how to improve in what we have now and move towards full API Integration as we presently have in PTML” Mrs. Uromta declared.
However,  Mr. M. R Lawal, one of the ICT staff of the CRFFN, who explained the mode of payment and collection of POF, revealed that there is a high level of underpayment and fraud in the payment of the POF while he lamented has rubbed the Council of its statutory revenue.
He explained that the freight forwarders are exploiting the high level of laxity among the terminal operators in collecting the POF to short-change the CRFFN.
“Because some of the releasing staff of the terminal operators are not thorough in their confirmation of payment claims by the freight forwarders, they left loopholes in the payment system on the portal which were cleverly being exploited by the freight forwarders who underpay the POF.
Lawal gave an example of some smart freight forwarders with up to 20 containers on their bills of lading but pay POF on only one due to the laxity of the releasing officers at the terminals.
To plug these loopholes and enhance the collection of POF, the CRFFN has raised a technical team with the officials of the federal ministry of transportation who will be visiting each of these terminals monthly, beginning in April, to reconcile their records with the terminal operators on the collection of POF.
According to the guidelines for reconciliation issued by the CRFFN, terminal operators are expected to collate bill of Lading cleared (exited) month by month from July 2020 to March 2023.
The terminal operators are expected to communicate a suitable date for both parties within April for a meeting with the council team.
This meeting is meant to thoroughly examine the documents presented by the terminal operators and to discuss the identified shortcomings to improve on them.
Mr. Lawal lamented that the CRFFN has so far recorded 400,000 bills of lading ( BOLs) since the inception of the POF collection.
This, according to him, fell short of the expectations of the council and led to drastic revenue generation from the POF.
However, to improve the enforcement level among terminal operators, the CRFFN has resolved to establish a help desk in each of the terminals for a seamless interface that will boost revenue collection from POF.
The council, therefore, pleaded with the terminal operators to provide space for this exercise.
It also enjoined the operators to attach Terminal Delivery Order (TDO) to each of the BOL
Alarmed by the level of underpayment and fraud in the payment of the POF, the CRFFN said it was interfacing with the maritime police to checkmate the menace.
It also promised to look into the suggestion made by terminal operators to take the burden of the collection of the POF from them and give it to the customs whom they believed are more suited for revenue collection.
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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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