In its bid to enforce trade rules on the part of the freight forwarders in the Maritime Sector and to stop delay in the clearance and release of cargo from the port, among others, the NAGAFF 100% Compliance Team, South East Zone has been inaugurated in Port Harcourt – Rivers State.
It would be recalled that during the formal inauguration of the Team at its National Headquarters in Apapa, Lagos State, in 2020, the Founder of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders(NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam who had been stressing on time without number the need for freight forwarders and other freight Agents to comply strictly to the rules governing International trade by being honest in their declarations and payment of approved Customs and excise duty.
Dr. Aniebonam said it had become necessary to join efforts with the government to sanitize the industry, as well as increase revenue generation of government through Nigerian Customs Service(NCS), in addition to reducing seizures of cargos by CG Strike Forces, FOU, SON, NAFDAC among others.
Speaking at the occasion which attracted the presence of Heads of key Government Agencies in the Industry in Port Harcourt, the National Coordinator, NAGAFF 100 % Compliance Team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko warned his members against sureting criminals at the police stations and at enforcement units of customs, stressing that they will not be party to any importer who violated the extant rules.
”We have an understanding with the Importers Association. We have signed and agreed with each other that the Compliance Team will not intervene in matters concerning any importer who defaulted.”.
Alhaji Tanko who expressed satisfaction with the large turn out of people at the inauguration ceremony including government agencies at the ports, remarked that it is a sign of acceptance by government, saying that the issue of compliance started with government agencies.
He advised the newly inaugurated members to desist from involving themselves in any act that would jeopardize their business or tarnish the image of the Compliance Team, while urging freight forwarders to always insist on importers using their names to shift their consignment inorder to avert the consequences.
”I want to advise my colleagues to desist from doing the wrong thing. Don’t use your name to shift or import any cargo with your name. Please allow the owner to shift that container with his name. Is not going to be hard for someone to open Form M with his name. But he is doing that because he is running away from the responsibility of that cargo; he is now pushing you to go ahead and use your name to shift container and many of them are in prison now just because of this nonsense.
”We are in agreement with the Importers and Shippers Association that we are not going to be party to it if they are caught. In fact, we are the ones that will fish you out. The CG of Customs is happy with what the Compliance Team is doing . We are not working alone. We are not the agitators of this compliance. We don’t have power of arrest, but we have power to speak. When we see, we say something. If you make a false declaration, we will not intervene”, he said.
In his speech the Customs Area Command, Port Harcourt, Garuba Y.M who described NAGAFF as partner in progress with Customs, a major stakeholder and a key player in ports administration said the association role in customs revenue generation cannot be over-emphasised.
Garuba who was represented by DC Nwobi Albert pointed out that customs revenue generation is based on declaration, stressed the need for honest declaration to avoid loss of revenue and seizures, while commending NAGAFF on the initiation.
Speaking also, the Commissioner of Police, Eastern Ports Command, CP Timi Peterside, represented by the Superintendent Bidele Wilson congratulated the Team’s noble initiative and pledged the command’s cooperation to their robust operation.
In his goodwill message, the Deputy Director, NAFDAC Operations, Rivers State, Anthony Erhegbe assured of NAFDAC’s readiness to synergise with 100% Compliance Team to ensure that right things are done in Ports operations.
According to Mr. Erhegbe, ”Before now things were not done properly. Declarations were mostly falsely done and sometimes the more you look the less you see, you don’t even know who to hold accountable and you don’t even know who is a consignee, who is doing the clearing. Everything just change overnight, even the shippers, everybody.
”We are looking forward to a time of sanity in port operation, sanity for the benefit of all. Those who entertain fears can now do their business and go to sleep.
Speaking also, the Area 1 Commander, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Kabiru Abdul represented by the 2i/c, Ibeleme Ijeoma harped on the need for truthfulness, fear of God as well as honest declarations of content in their business operations, stressing that their current Director General had vowed not to spare anyone involved in the importation of illicit drugs in to the country.
Photo: The National Coordinator, NAGAFF 100% Compliance Team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko during the inauguration of the Eastern Zone of the team in Port-Harcourt recently.