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Freight Monitor

AMATO laments high level of corruption in cargo delivery system at ports, as it hosts international anti-corruption group

The Eyewitness Reporter
The Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) has lamented a high level of corruption in the cargo value chain at the Nigerian Ports.
Remi Ogungbemile, the Chairman of the group, who made the allegation while playing host to the international anti- Corruption group, Siemens Integrity Initiative at the association’s office Thursday, November 3rd, 2023, alleged that the existence of multiple checkpoints, extortion, slow terminals operations, touting and disunity in Customs operations often lead to confiscation of trucks after being duly cleared by Customs officials at the ports.
 A delegation of Siemens Integrity Initiative, an International anti-corruption group that was on an evaluation of the impact of anti-corruption initiatives in the Nigerian ports environment, has paid a courtesy visit to the head office of AMATO.
Siemens Internal Initiative has provided funding since 2010 to anti-corruption agencies with the vision of ensuring a corruption-free environment for businesses and corporations around the world.
Through an external assessor, Nordic Consulting Group (NCG) Copenhagen, Siemens visited to assess the level of compliance with standard business processes and the impact of anti-corruption groups in combating the menace of corruption within the Nigerian port business environment.
AMATO Chairperson, Mr. Remi Ogungbemi, who received the delegation along with members of AMATO and sister associations, thanked the group for their unwavering effort in supporting the cause of the Nigerian port industry and truckers in particular to provide a platform for profitability and sustainability of the maritime transport business space.
Ogungbemi stated that together with Siemens, while anti-corruption groups like Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) and Convention on Business Integrity (CBI), are leaders in championing the cause of restoring sanity to Nigeria’s maritime industry, much work still remains to be done.
Giving a vote of confidence on  MACN and CBI, he noted that their campaigns have led to the free movement of cargo in the outbound section of the ports’ access.
He called for a review of the Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) mandate to enable it to cover the inbound section of the port access roads where extortion of truckers and the existence of multiple barriers to trade hampers ease of doing business and seamless evacuation of cargoes from the ports.
He also called for an increase in human resources to tackle the menace head-on and financial support to accelerate the process of nipping the problems in the bud.
On their part, Private Sector Development & Partnership Experts Nordic Consulting, Mrs. Marie-Louis Appelquist, and Evaluation and Governance Expert Nordic Consulting, Mrs. Ayla Olesen Yurtaslan, took note of issues raised by the truckers and promised to escalate to relevant authorities through the Maritime Anti-Corruption alliance  MACN/CBI for responsive actions.
AMATO presented merit awards to Mr. Vivek Menon of MACN; Mr. Soji Apampa, the Co-founder and CEO of CBI; and Mr. Moses Fadipe, the National Coordinator of PSTT for their collective fight against corruption in the Nigerian maritime industry.
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Freight Monitor

ANLCA’s factional crisis at Airport chapter worsens as Emenike suspends Bamgbala Adewusi over trump up charges

Nwokeoji, ANLCA President

Funso Olojo

The factional crisis at the Murtala Mohammed Airport chapter of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents(ANLCA) may have taken a dangerous dimension as the National President of the Association, Emenike Nwokeoji, has ordered the suspension of Prince Bamgbala Adewusi, the factional Chairman of the Airport Chapter of the ANLCA.

The crisis, which was triggered by the dissolution of the Adewusi-led chapter executives and the appointment and inauguration of Temitope Pius Akindele-led new chapter executives about two months ago, has witnessed several twists and turns that dovetailed into multiple litigations before it finally degenerated into the suspension of Prince Adewusi.

In an internal memo written and signed by Fakanlu Olumide, the National Secretary of ANLCA, Prince Adewusi together with two other members, Mr. Davies Ben Chukwunenye and Mr Lekwauwa Ifeayi Valentine, were suspended for their ”refusal to appear before the disciplinary committee to defend themselves over the documented allegations of financial malpractices bordering on embezzlement of association money”.

The memo, dated 7th, June 2024 anC addressed to all  ANLCA Corporate Members titled Suspension of Membership reads inter alia “This is to notify the entire members of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents(ANLCA) of the suspension of the membership of the under listed from the association;

1.Mr Bamgbala Adewusi of ASHOV Nig.Ltd/BATOLAB Nigeria Limited.

2. Mr Davies Ben Chukwunenye of SAMON KAY Nigeria Limited.

3. Mr Lekwauwa Ifeayi Valentine of ROKBAL Global Investment Limited.

”The decision to suspend the membership of the above persons is premised on their failure/refusal to appear before the Disciplinary Committee to defend themselves over the documented allegations of financial malpractices bordering on embezzlement of Association money as stated in section 24(10) of our 2023 constitution as amended.

”It is noteworthy that the fourth member also accused in the petition showed up at the Disciplinary Committee sitting and absolved himself.

”It must be emphasized here that members of the Association are under the obligation to conduct themselves in line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Association hence no member should be allowed to act as if he/she is above the said Constitution.

”Consequently, the above-stated members henceforth cease to be recognised as members of the Association, and no transaction shall be conducted with them in their former capacities as members of the Association until further notice.

”We hereby use this opportunity to thank our members for their understanding and support, especially our members in the MMIA Cargo chapter.

”We enjoin them to go about their business peacefully while assuring all that no amount of recalcitrance and blackmail will deter this administration from doing what is constitutional and in the best interest of ANLCA” the memo concluded.

However, industry commentators believed that the suspension of Prince Adewusi was more of political victimisation given the standoff between him and the National President of ANLCA, Mr. Emenike Nwokeoji over the controversial elections in the Airport Chapter.

One of the top members of ANLCA who craved anonymity described Adewusi’s suspension as witch-hunting and an attempt by Emenike to break the resistance and sheer willpower of the factional chapter Chairman which has stood his ground and refused to be intimidated since the crisis started.

The source however described the purported suspension as a charade that will further plunge the association deeper into crisis.

Prince Adewusi was yet to respond to his suspension as at the time of writing this report.

 

 

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Freight Monitor

Adewale Adeniyi’s purposeful leadership as CGC excites Tin Can ANLCA

Wale Adeniyi, CGC
-appeals for government intervention to stabilise customs  duty exchange rate 
—-lamens it impedes trade
Funso Olojo
In unison and one accord, the customs brokers plying their trade at the Tin Can Island port have expressed satisfaction with the present Customs administration led by its Comptroller General, Adewale Adeniyi.
Their endorsement stems from their belief that the incumbent customs authority is a radical departure from the pains and torture they experienced for eight years under the previous leadership.
Speaking in their different capacity as the members of the Tin Can Island chapter of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), the freight forwarders said the one -year old administration of Adeniyi as the Customs boss has heralded peace and stability at the customs ports which they said has led to trade facilitation, boosted revenue collection and bolstered staff welfare.
“, It was a refreshing departure from the past administration when customs brokers were always at loggerhead with Customs administration over its anti-trade, anti-people policies and programmes which created tension and put a lot of stress on freight forwarders” declared Barrister Ada Akpunonu, one of the foremost freight forwarders and the Managing Director of Rozac
 International Nigeria Limited.
Speaking in the same vein were Sunday Oforha, the ANLCA sole Administrator at Tin Can port and the Managing Director of Viana Rite Logistics, Alhaji Usman Baba, the Managing Director of Lungwu Nigeria Limited, Charles Uba, the Managing Director of Pilyke Global Services Nigeria Limited as well as special Assistant to ANLCA President, Emenike, Lolo Nneka and Otunba Olasupo Komolafe, the Managing Director of Ankosstar Nigeria Limited.
“We are really happy with the performance of the present Customs management led by CGC Adewale Adeniyi.
” We are equally elated by the Customs Act 2023 which allows professionals to take charge of Customs affairs.” declared Barrister Akpunonu.
” This has impacted well on the customs operations.
“You can’t compare what obtained now in customs administration with the previous regime because trained officers are now in charge.
” Some of the challenges we experienced under the previous regime such as duplication of functions and multiplication of task forces are no longer there”
” This has really helped to facilitate trade, the ANLCA Chieftains said.
The excited freight forwarders claimed that clearance of goods now takes between 24 and 48 hours if importers are compliant.
” Today, there is no longer a multiplicity of task force teams who would subject our consignments to multiple checks, thus impeding trade facilitation and extortions of agents.
“The morale of staff is boosted due to the enhanced welfare programmes of the customs administration which are meant to motivate them.
” This has led to efficient service delivery and an atmosphere of peace at the ports, less tension for compliant freight forwarders and enhanced revenue generation.
” The level of compliance is also high amongst the trading public”
” All these are as a result of the innovative leadership of the Nigeria Customs Service” the freight forwarders declared.
The freight forwarders of the Tin Can ANLCA  stock however lamented in the floating exchange rate which they claimed hampers trade and scares investors from the country.
” The issue of the floating exchange rate is a worrisome issue which impedes trade” Akponuno declared.
 ”  The Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should as a matter of urgency intervene to bring sanity to the system and restore the sagging confidence of investors.
” The situation is very unpredictable due to instability of the exchange rate which does not tend to planning,” the ANLCA Chieftain said.
” In the last three to four months, there have been fluctuations in exchange rates.
” Importers are afraid. They cannot plan because most of them took loans from the banks with high interests” lamented Sunday Eforha, the ANLCA Tin can chapter sole Administrator.
He claimed that this situation has given rise to a paucity of cargo at the port.
“Cargo throughput has dropped. Tin Can port now looks like a graveyard” the ANLCA chieftain claimed.
The respondents however agreed that the unfortunate situation was not the fault of the customs as they are merely implementors of government fiscal policies.
” As again the erroneous impression in some quarters, the floating rate was the fiscal policy of the CBN and not the making of the customs.
“The Customs are just implementing the policy” Ada Akpunonu explained.
She however expressed surprise that the Manufacturers are doing little or nothing to address the situation.
” It is only ANLCA, under the current leadership of Emenike, which is working silently to tackle the problems.
“The ANLCA leadership has engaged the necessary authority on this matter and it is still in the process of engagement” the freight forwarder claimed.
However, the ANLCA team has debunked the widely held views in some quarters which claimed that the present Customs management was favouring some associations, terminal operators, groups and individuals through benchmarking in duty collection.
” There is nothing like benchmarking.
” You pay duties according to your declaration. So the issue of favoritism in duty collection as being alleged against the Customs management, especially DCG Carolina Niagwan, the DCG, Trade and Tariffs, is false and unfounded.
“Duty application is triggered by the system and not on the whims and caprices of an individual” declared Barrister Akpunonu.
” Duty payment is not uniform.
There is no way she can influence duty payment as she cannot doctor PAAR, even though the Comptroller of PAAR reports to her” Alhaji Usman Baba corroborated.
” It was a campaign of calumny launched by a faceless group which is not comfortable with the thoroughness and uncompromising attitude of DCG Caro which is meant to frustrate the good work she is doing in trade facilitation” Barrister Akpunonu observed.
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Freight Monitor

ANLCA crisis gets messier as Chapter Excos elected by Tony Iju in Western Zone head to court to challenge Emenike’s Sole Administrators

Emenike Nwekeoji , ANLCA President
–court threatens to commit Emenike’s  NECOM, BOT to contempt charge over MMA chapter elections
Funso Olojo 
There seems to be no end in sight for the resurgent crisis which is silently engulfing the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA).
The freight forwarding group, which few months ago emerged from five years of factional crisis under its former National President, Tony Iju Nwabunike, is gradually but steadily retrogressing to the dark days of factional war in the association.
The fragile peace which was contrived by the Customs Consultative Council (CCC)and the Council for the Registration of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria(CRFFN) that ushered in the current National Executive Committee ( NECOM) led by Nwokeoji Emenike and the makeshift Board of Trustees( BOT) led by Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, is gradually being filtered away due to what is being considered in some quarters as unilateral decisions taken by the present NECOM so far.
The resurging crisis, which was triggered by the decision of Emenike to sack the Bamgbala Adewusi-led executive council at the Murtala Mohammed Airport chapter, has now been compounded by yet another decision of the President to appoint sole administrators to man the Chapters in the Western Zone of the association.
In a public notice issued on May 22nd,2024 and signed on behalf of the National President, Olumide Fakanlu, the National Secretary of the association, Sole administrators were appointed to manage the affairs of seven chapters in the Western Zone namely Apapa, Tin Can, PTML, KLT, Seme, MMIA and Lekki.
These appointments may have sparked off another round of legal battle as some of the elected members of the Excos appointed by former National President, Tony Iju Nwabunike, have come together to challenge the imposition of sole administrators on their chapters.
It could be recalled that Tony Iju in 2021, amid the raging factional war in the Association, conducted chapter elections in these chapters at the Western Zone.
It was at the same time Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, the chairman of the BOT during the factional crisis, also installed his own parallel executive councils in these chapters.
However, the Excos elected by the Nwabunike-led NECOM, are now contesting the decision of Emenike’s NECOM to impose sole administrators on them, claiming their tenure will only expire in February 2025.
According to Prince Ozo Chukwura, the Vice Chairman of BOT of ANLCA, some of these aggrieved Exco members which Emenike-led NECOM sought to dissolve their governments, have made their intentions known to challenge what they regarded as the impunity and unilateral action of Emenike in the court of law.
In an exclusive interview with our reporter, Prince Ozo Chukwura said these people have already instructed their lawyer to write  NECOM that they are not ready to vacate their positions until February 2025.
“Some of the  Excos elected by Tony Iju Nwabunike’s NECOM came to me to complain that sole administrators have been appointed to their chapters.
” They informed me that they have contracted the services of a lawyer to write NECOM through the National President that their tenure is still running till February 2025″ the BOT vice chairman stated.
Prince Chukwura lamented that some of the decisions so far taken by Emenike may lead the association to another unending crisis.
” Emenike has unilaterally taken a decision over the MMA chapter elections that will drag the association into a serious crisis.
” He has dragged us into an issue that nobody knows how it is going to end”
” Tony Iju Nwabunike’s government was legitimate. He conducted chapter elections while he was still within four years of his tenure.
” A court judgment was handed over to him, asking him not to recognize whatever Mustapha’s BOT did then, including the elections of chapters he conducted then, especially the Tope Akindele election he conducted at MMA.
” However, Tope Akindele wrote a letter that he has withdrawn from the case instituted over the Chapter election in MMA and wrote an apology letter to Tony Iju Nwabunike – led NECOM”
” Suddenly, the same Tope turned around to say he won the election.
” Who was his President then? Who swear him in and where”
” Tope Akindele went to Badagry Magistrate court and got a judgement on his chapter elections and other chapters in the Western Zone, meaning all other chapters in the Zone were involved in the case.
” He got the judgement that he won the election as the chairman of the MMA chapter but at that point in time, the case was appealed by Tony Iju Nwabunike – led NECOM.
“The appeal was that there was a court judgment that had restrained the Nwabunike’s NECOM from recognising the BOT then led by Mustapha that set up the then ASECO that conducted Tope’s elections.
” However, the new NECOM led by Emenike wrote to the association lawyer to withdraw the case.”
” Now, all the chapter chairmen and their executives under Tony’s NECOM came together to challenge the matter in the court of appeal.
” This was because the case which was instituted by Tope Akindele at Badagry magistrate court where he got judgment involved all the chapters in the Western Zone.
” Now all the Executives elected under Tony’s NECOM had tendered their certificates of returns to show that their tenure has not expired”
” Also, the court has sent a notification letter to Emenike’s NECOM and the BOT under Mustapha of which I am the Vice chairman, asking them to appear before the court and show cause why they should not be committed to contempt charge by interfering with the MMA elections whose matter is on appeal.
” The letter was addressed to NECOM led by Emenike and BOT led by Mustapha” explained Prince Ozo Chukwura.
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