National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has indicated its intention to reopen a pending appeal before the Appeal Court on the status of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
The founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam who disclosed this in an interview with our correspondent in Lagos said that having lost the case at the Federal High Court level, the association approached the Appeal Court to either uphold the ruling of the Federal High Court or overturn it.
It will be recalled that members of NAGAFF few years ago approached a Federal High Court in Lagos to determine whether or not the CRFFN is a government agency or a private council set up by the freight forwarders to regulate their activities.
Delivering judgment on the matter, the Court ruled that CRFFN is a government agency and should be seen as such. Dissatisfied with the judgment, NAGAFF approached the Appeal Court for further interpretation, an appeal which had been lying fallow at the court for years now.
Speaking on the pending appeal, Aniebonam emphasized that the reason the appeal had not been pursued to a logical conclusion was because they decided to allow the sleeping dog lie so as to see if the council would make progress.
He insisted that the council was a private one and so should not be considered as a government agency even as he argued that unlike other government agencies, the President never appointed the Chairman of the council.
According to him,”One thing I need to tell you, we are just building a castle on a shifting sand but it is just that for us in NAGAFF, we decided to say okay, let us allow the sleeping dog lie because we are still in court, we are still at the appellate court for proper interpretation of the status of CRFFN. CRFFN is a quasi government agency under government control.
“But for peace to reign, we will still visit the issue because for instance, Mr. President never appointed the Chairman of the council. It is an elected members of the council that elect their Chairman. Jukwe who is the Registrar was not appointed by the Minister of Transport, he was appointed by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria and the modus operandi for us to raise our money is there under section 6 of the council’s Act, other sundry expenses could be this issue of POF”.
When asked to mention the names of the litigants in this matter, Aniebonam who is also the National Chairman of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) said,” Freight forwarders, one Ejike Onwuka and others, they are registered members of CRFFN and they are members o NAGAFF”.
Asked why the matter remained unattended to many years after it was instituted, he quipped,”We decided to hold on the case to give way for the council to set off, four years, the first council has come and gone, we are now in the fifth or sixth year as the case may be. We want CRFFN to kick-start, then we still have to go to the National Assembly if there are things we are still not clear with and the National Assembly will fine-tune it. That is what we agreed at the NAGAFF council, it not that we have accepted it, the case is there and the CRFFN is aware”.
Reacting to the development, the National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu described the appeal as NAGAFF’s initiative,” which they choose to a accelerate or dis accelerate”, owing to the fact that it had lasted over the years.
“They abandoned it, if they are waking up to it now, it is because ANLCA has two serious cases because the Act setting up CRFFN says that non-existing profession in Nigeria is now going to be in Nigeria by the Act, therefore, CRFFN is to regulate the freight forwarding”, Shittu said.
However, all attempt made by our correspondent to get the reaction of the Registrar of CRFFN, Sir Mike Jukwe proved abortive as he could not be reached on phone as at the time of filing this report.
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