Be careful with ANLCA members, CAFFA warns Hameed Ali


The leadership of the Concerned Accredited Freight Forwarders’ Association (CAFFA) has warned the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) to be careful with the members of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) who it said are waiting for any opportunity to rubbish his hard-earned reputation.

In a press release issued by the CAFFA’s Director of Special Duties, Mr. Ugochukwu Nnadi, the group that It would be to the benefit of the CGC if he distances himself from the likes of ANLCA and its members who shall in no distant time blackmail him of taking bribe if he refuses to play their game.

It will be recalled that CAFFA had on Wednesday last week in a press release adduced that the speech of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali did not give any direction and character as to how to curb corruption in the ports, a statement which did not go down well with ANLCA which accused CAFFA of trying to raise unnecessary dust and crying more than the bereaved.

Apparently to punish ANLCA for daring the association’s stand, CAFFA in the press release described ANLCA’s press release as unnecessary grandstanding and playing to the gallery.

CAFFA however maintained that it still stood by its observation on the speech of the new Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Rtd. Col. Hameed Ali that it falls short of its expectations especially on how he intended to tackle corruption at the Customs ports saying that the onus was on the CGC to tell them in concrete terms the solution to the problems in the Customs Ports rather than rhetorics of the old administration antics.

The statement partly read,” The attention of the leadership of the Concerned Accredited Freight Forwarders Associations (CAFFA) has been drawn to the campaign of calumny by the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (Anlca) and its leadership against major stakeholders in the industry, especially the CAFFA members.  For purposes of emphasis, CAFFA still stands by its observation on the speech of the new Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Rtd. Col. Hameed Ali that it falls short of our expectations especially on how he intends to tackle corruption at the Customs ports.  The onus is on the CGC to tell us in concrete terms the solution to our problems in the Customs Ports rather than rhetorics of the old administration antics.  Ordinarily we would not have dignified the uncouth vituperation of the author of this write up of ANLCA but for record purposes.

“The Caffa members are not in the habit of sycophancy with a view to currying favour from the leadership of Government Agencies and Functionaries in the Nigeria entry points. It is on record that Anlca has been in the habit of blowing hot and cold and most times blackmailing Government Agencies and Functionaries when their demands are not met. We are very much aware of the extent they went against the former CGC Alhaji Dikko Inde Abdullahi which made him to influence the building of the ANLCA Secretariat which they named after him.  The write up in question is nothing short of un-necessary grandstanding and playing to the gallery.  ANLCA members in their organized manner for blackmail can wake up any day and start shouting in a coordinated manner – “PAAR is not working, PAAR is a waste of time and money.  PAAR must be a final document despite non compliance in declaration”.

“It is also on record that after the election when ANLCA noticed that there is a change of Government, they turned against Inde Dikko Abdullahi and asked for his sack.  In the same token we are also aware that Comptroller Tajudeen Olarenwaju was pelted with pure water sachets at the Airport Command when he refused to accept their illegal activities.  It is also on record that the TICT was stormed and picketed by ANLCA members because the management allegedly refused to give them N10 Million Naira bribe (or tip if you like) in their alleged agitation to reduce demurrage cost borne out of strike action.

“We are also aware that while CAFFA members were opposing the arrest of containers along the city roads of Lagos, ANLCA went and allegedly received a cash reward and a 100KVA Generator from an Agency of Government to support the seeming breaches of the law establishing it.  The situation on ground is that the emergence of Rtd. Col. Hameed Ali as the CGC is a big problem to ANLCA because they do not know how to blackmail the Customs officers.  ANLCA is greatly worried because the man does not even laugh nor raise his face up to know who you are.  The implication is obvious that their sycophancy is merely asking for intimate friendship with the CGC to corner him to their side.

“As regards the licensing regulation of Customs, it shall be a disservice to the nation if the Nigeria Customs Service and in particular Rtd. Col. Hameed Ali should continue with the licensing of corporate bodies to deal with Customs matters.  This is because it is the greatest threat to Government revenue at the moment because most of the licenses are owned by outfits of serving Customs officers and foreigners.  We can only advise Rtd. Col. Hameed Ali to be careful with ANLCA members because if he plays into their hands, they will attempt to tarnish his hard-earned reputation”.

The group therefore advised the CGC to enter into strategic cooperation with the leadership of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) towards building a robust approach to professionalism in the business of freight forwarding and customs formalities.

It further clarified that the CRFFN had the mandate to train and certify individuals to manage and administer freight forwarding companies and licensed Customs companies as experts.

“We do hope the CGC will exploit this avenue to help in achieving compliance in our import and export regulations.  It would be to the benefit of the CGC if he distances himself from the likes of ANLCA and its members who shall in no distant time blackmail him of taking bribe if he refuses to play their game.

“In our characteristic manner as patriotic Nigerians, we shall continue to engage the CGC constructively and partner with him very responsibly with a clear objective to achieve the mandate of Mr. President which shall include but not limited to restructuring, reforming and enhancing revenue collection functions of the Service.

“At this juncture, we wish to state our appreciation of the decision of the CGC to reverse the restriction placed on rice importation through the border.  It is regrettable that ANLCA people who claim to be licensed by Customs are among those who did not know that the CGC has the powers to remove the restriction.  The CGC should know that ANLCA members lack knowledge in the business of Customs responsibilities although they claim to be representing the Customs as their agents.  The contrary is the case because they are merely licensed by the Customs to operate.  In other words ANLCA members are agents of the principals who are the Shippers. Please see Sections 4, 5, 6, 18, 153, 154, 155 and 156 of CEMA, the authority of the CGC to remove restriction on imported rice through the land borders.  The delegated power of Mr. President under Section 5 of 1999 Constitution is also strategic to his authority to remove the restriction on rice importation inclusively.

“We can only but pray for the CGC that at the end of his tenure, he will leave behind ports that would be a pride of our nation, with his earned respect and integrity intact in dealing with the likes of ANLCA and its members.  To show you the true character of the ANLCA members who are trying to catch your attention, at the moment reports have it that there is a ground swell of opinion that the name of the immediate past CGC, Alhaji Inde Dikko Abdullahi be removed from their National Secretariat.  The reasons are twofold.  One, it is alleged that there is a serious case of accountability on monies realized from donors who are Terminal Operators and friends of the Customs.  Two, because the man is no more in power, and characteristic of ANLCA, they have turned their back on him.

“Our respected CGC, Sir, we are saying all this to you because as they say. “To be forewarned, is to be forearmed”.  You need to be wary of friends like ANLCA, because they are better referred to as “fair weather” friends.

“Hobnobbing with this greedy bunch and betrayers is the worst risk anybody could take.  An example is the pending case at a Lagos High Court where ANLCA sued some Government officials and Agencies including, the Attorney General of the Federation, the Honourable Minister of Transport, and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, the Inspector General of Police, NAHCO, CRFFN, as well as some Associations in the industry, over the collection of Practitioners Operating Fees (POF) in their bid to take the lion share and over and above the other Associations”, the statement said.

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