The 100% Compliance Team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has denied the allegation of harassment, intimidation and blackmail of customs officers on duty leveled against it by the Zonal Coordinator, West of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Sir John Ofobuike.
Ofobuike had in a petition dated 8th December, 2020 and addressed to the Customs Area Controller of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Apapa Area Command, Comptroller Abba Kura alleged that “a lot of officers in your command are groaning under the weight of constant demand for job gratification, intimidation, harassment and name dropping by Mr. Ibrahim Tanko and his purported 100% Compliance Team from NAGAFF.”
He added that ANLCA took exception to the trend because of its long standing relationship with the Nigeria Customs Service spanning over six decades in the area of revenue generation for the federal government through the maritime domain noting that this understanding and partnership had inspired him to point out the abnormal for his (Controller’s) immediate attention.
According to him, “You may have been aware of a publication in one of the maritime print media blackmailing one of your officers in AML Bonded Terminal for bluntly refusing to ‘play ball’ to the said 100% Compliance Team led by Alh. Tanko Ibrahim.
“They have been issuing threats to him for his astuteness in discharging his duty. Same goes to your officers in Mid-Maritime Bonded Terminal as well as Denca Bonded Terminal and other terminals who refused to ‘play ball’ with them. They are equally being intimidated and hounded for approaching their duties with forthrightness.
“In view of the above sir, it will be expedient if you use your good office to protect your officers from the evil machinations of these insatiable and self-seeking ‘Alh. Tanko’and his 100% compliance team.”
However, reacting in a press briefing in Lagos yesterday, the National Coordinator of the NAGAFF’s 100% Compliance Team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko denied the allegations stating that the last time the team visited the three bonded terminals during the tour of bonded terminals, they did visit with the press adding that he did not go there alone.
Tanko further explained that since that time, he had never gone there again by himself even as he denied intimidating or extorting any customs officer as alleged by the petitioner.
He said, “I don’t think I intimidated any customs officer, I don’t think I extorted any customs officer and I don’t think that I harassed any customs officer. How can an armless person like me, a civilian like me intimidate an armed customs officer? How will somebody who has no gun harass somebody with gun? How will somebody with no power of arrest intimidate or harass customs officer who has power of arrest and has gun as well in his hand? He (Ofobuike) could have been patient enough to wait to see our mistake before writing the petition but because he was anxious maybe to hurt us or to cause confusion between the compliance team and the customs management; he now decided to write this.
“Since the establishment of this 100% Compliance Team, we have never confronted or attacked any customs officer or any government agency. What we are doing is between the importers and our members telling them the benefits of doing the right thing. We did not accuse any customs officer of corruption or any other wrong doing. If there is any such development, let the person so attack, harassed or intimidated come out and say so.”
The National Coordinator while pointing out that he had nothing against Oforbuike as a person, however, explained that “before the establishment of the compliance team, when I was the Vice President Western Zone, the founder of NAGAFF asked me to work with him. I have called him more than three times, I even met him at the long room pointing out to him the need for us to work together so as to achieve our common goals. But he was not forthcoming and I had to withdraw and move forward. I don’t have anything against Oforbuike; I can’t remember having any issue with him. So, if you ask me the reason behind this, I can’t answer.”
He went further to say that “If you can remember vividly, recently, we have entered into synergy with ANLCA. The President of ANLCA was with us at NAGAFF village and when we saw this, we have to call the attention of ANLCA President and he was shocked hearing this. But I want you people to understand that the synergy between NAGAFF and ANLCA still stands. There is no division between ANLCA and NAGAFF.
“This issue is as a result of the bad eggs that we are talking about. Even in NAGAFF, we have people like that. So, we should not be surprised if we can get people like this in ANLCA. I want everybody to understand that between NAGAFF and ANLCA, we have no issue and it is not even my fight, it is their fight to show you how serious this matter is. I repeat, NAGAFF and ANLCA don’t have any issue. I am taking time to explain this because the petitioner used the letter heading of ANLCA and people will be seeing it as if we cannot really synergize.
“I want you to understand that the relationship between ANLCA and NAGAFF is still intact. Just few days ago, ANLCA formed its compliance team and they asked us to work with them and by January, we are going to call them for a meeting to see if we are going to reframe our materials in order to make it a joint compliance team between ANLCA and NAGAFF. We are working towards that.
“Oforbuike is under suspension in ANLCA presently and the leadership of ANLCA is preparing to expel him from ANLCA entirely. What it means is that he has no right to even use the letter heading of ANLCA to write a petition when you are under suspension.”
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