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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

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

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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Freight Monitor

No campaign of calumny can derail our anti-corruption crusade at Ports— Ibrahim Tanko

Ibrahim Tanko
The Eyewitness Reporter
The National Coordinator of the 100 percent Compliance team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, has reiterated the unbending resolve and determination of the team to pursue the war against illicit trade practices among the service providers and freight forwarders in the maritime industry until the menace is decapitated.
Alhaji Tanko was making this reassurance in Lagos while reacting to one of the series of unwarranted attacks and campaigns of calumny being sponsored against him and his team by people he referred to as doubtful characters.
The group had asked NAGAFF, the parent body of the anti-corruption crusade unit, to call the coordinator of the 100 percent Compliance team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, and his members to order following the petition the freight forwarding anti-graft unit wrote to the new Comptroller General of Customs, Wale Adeniyi on the nefarious activities of bonded terminals operators.
In the petition, the NAGAFF Compliance team has exposed the illicit operations of the bonded terminal operators which border on sabotage of customs trade facilitation and revenue generation mandate of the Nigeria Customs Service, security breaches, and economic crime.
However, the group has accused the NAGAFF compliance team of not addressing the common issues confronting freight forwarders, adding they expected Alhaji Ibrahim and his team to come out and condemn unfriendly policies of the government such as the consistent increase in the customs exchange rate from $422 to $581 and now $770 in less than one month which has led to loss of jobs as a means of livelihood.
The group has also wanted the compliance team to come out and condemn the high-handedness and gross impunity of some Customs Officers who by exploitative demands create bottlenecks to hamper trade facilitation, rather than using consistent blackmail, baseless and unfounded allegations against indigenous Bonded Terminal Operators and relevant stakeholders for obvious selfish reasons.
In his reaction to the claims of the faceless group, Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim said that he was well prepared for the assignment of preaching the ideals of fair trade practices among the stakeholders in the industry and was well aware of the danger inherent in being an anti-corruption crusader as corruption will always fight back.
On the consistent increase in Customs exchange rate from $422 to $581 and now $770 in less than one month, Alhaji Ibrahim said the policy is outside the control of the Customs but formulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria and Ministry of Finance which he said the Customs is mandated to implement.
As for condemning malpractices in the industry, the NAGAFF chieftain maintained that his continuous and endless battle with agencies of government in the maritime industry, especially the Nigeria Customs Service, Police, NDLEA, SON, NAFDAC regarding the welfare of freight forwarders and the maritime industry, in general, is evident for all to see and this is verifiable.
“Our fight for justice is unending, and fact has shown it, neither will it stop.
“It is obvious that those who are crying wolves where there is none are complicit in the unwholesome practices going on in the bonded terminals of which they are the beneficiaries.
“The rantings, uncoordinated claims, and allegations of this anonymous group clearly showed they were poorly briefed by their sponsors and paymasters who are no longer comfortable with our ceaseless searchlight on their illicit operations and practices.
However, Alhaji Tanko declared that the attack by the anonymous group was a demonstration of its members’ support for illicit activities going on in these bonded terminals for which the NAGAFF 100 percent Compliance team has exposed.
Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko has therefore vowed that no amount of intimidation, cheap blackmail, or assassination of character will deter him and his team in their crusade against illicit practices in the industry.
He vowed that his team remains focused to ensure that all stakeholders play by the rules and perpetrators of illicit practices are brought to book.
” And yes, he who goes to equity must go with clean hands. I, therefore, challenge any members of this motley group to come up with verifiable evidence to back up their unconscionable claims and allegations against me.
“For clear conscience fears no accusation” he stated.
Alhaji Ibrahim said that he would have chosen to ignore the unverifiable allegations of the faceless group but the urge to set the record straight for posterity’s sake was too strong to resist.
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