NAGAFF tips NAFDAC officials at seaports as notorious, corrupt


The National Association of Government approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has said that a critical look on the level of corruption on the part of the officials of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) will force one to shed tears.

The founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam who made this known while addressing a forum in Lagos recently observed that a visit to NAFDAC unit, one would see that a number of agents were being intimidated and detained at the agency’s cell unnecessarily thereby infringing on the standard operating conditions of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).

Aniebonam contended that a freight forwarder is an intermediary person who acts as an agent to his principal, in this case the importer even as he argued that in case of any breach, a freight forwarder of an agent as the case may be could not be held responsible for any infraction as he could best serve as a bait to get to the importer or better still serve as a principal witness in terms of prosecution.

He said,” Nobody has looked at the issue of NAFDAC, what is NAFDAC doing in the port? If you ask me, NAFDAC officials are living in the euphoria of the exploits of the late Prof. Dora Akunyili. But when you look at the issue of corruption on the part of the NAFDAC officials at the ports, you will shed tears. There are other things that are happening that most of you do not know, you go to the same unit of NAFDAC, how many agents are being intimidated there, detained unnecessarily, infringing on the standard operating procedure of CRFFN.

“A freight forwarder is an intermediary person, he acts as an agent to the principal and in any case, NAFDAC has not given us any permit to work. We are under the regulatory agency of CRFFN and of course, the sub element operator, the Licensed Customs Agents. If you looks at section 153 and 154, 154 in particular talks about the liability of a freight forwarder as it were. So, if you look at that section, you will see that a freight forwarder under the standard operating conditions do not have anything to do with all these nonsense because the day you opened your container at the port for physical examination is the day everybody is seeing it, you are not the person who imported the goods.

“So, the scenario will be that in the event of default, in the event of any matter that have you go under inquiry, they only use you as a principal witness in terms of prosecution but not to go and put you inside the cell. What they needed to say is can we see the owner of this consignment through you? You job is finished. If they want to prosecute the person, yes, they will call you up. Some of you will not know what is going on there; it is like what they are doing there is even more than what is happening in some of these law enforcement agencies’ cells”.

He however warned freight forwarders to desist from using their private companies to process documents for the purposes of importing goods on behalf of their principals adding that the dangers inherent in such practice is better seen than imagined.

“So, these are very serious issues, the NICIS of the customs you all know, the worst scenario now is that many of you use your private companies to import cargoes for your principals and of course, have you thought about the inherent liabilities if you understand the contract of carriage, the owner of the consignment is the consignee. If you use your company to import for an importer and the importer is somewhere there, his name doesn’t appear in any of the documents, if anything happens, it is on you and he is going to deny you. A good example is what happened in Apapa, supposing the agent had used the name of company to prepare the Form M and other necessary documents, the liability is on the agent because the whole of the import documents are bearing his name and before you know it, the owner of that consignment will disappear and then you carry the consequences.

“So, let us really go professional and have our limitations and then in the area of education and enlightenment, we need to know our limit and what we do. On matters that have to do with Standards Organization, it is compliance. The SONCAP regulation is very obvious, there are statutory regulations that we must follow but most of us here will neglect it and we will go and tell our importers that they should not worry, that nothing is happening and then you go ahead to the extent of forging some documents. So, as a member of NAGAFF, you must be outstanding, be upright in your business.

“Some of you becloud the customs examination, you don’t even know the consequences, when you have not examined the containers you want to clear and you connive with the person you want to connive with, if there is interception of that container, instances of conspiracy has caught you up. But if you perform your customs examination, whatever happened at the customs examination, you are not liable, all you are is a principal witness in terms of prosecution. So, you must have limit of what you do to safeguard yourself. This is what NAGAFF is expected to achieve”, Aniebonam said.

Meanwhile, all efforts made by our correspondent to get the reactions of the NAFDAC on the allegations proved abortive all the telephone calls put across to were not responded to neither were the calls returned as at the time of filing this report.

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