Senate Probe: Nicol makes case for over 2000 defaulting companies


Following the ongoing senate investigation on import infractions, the President, Shippers’ Association Lagos State, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Nicol has called on the senate to be compassionate with their members.

Nicol who made this plea in an interview with Primetime Reporters in Lagos recently said that while one cannot say that the shippers were not culpable in the infractions so far discovered, the association had to support the senate in its investigations for it to go very deep into the problem so as to find out the cause and stop it.

He noted that the senate invites shippers to their chamber almost every week saying that information available to the association showed that the upper legislative chamber had so far invited as much as two thousand defaulting companies even as he said that the senate was not after the cause of the default rather why they should default in the first place.

According to him,” You see this under-declaration, it does not start from the shippers, somebody advised them to do that and it has been on for God knows when it started because you see, if you don’t load your container to the teeth, you won’t be able to pay all the bills. What is the government doing to reduce the cost of doing business in Nigeria? Those are the areas we want the senate to look into.

“You have Standards Organization with its own bill, you have NAFDAC with its own bill, you have all the agencies with their own bill, now the palletization is coming up and we have to pay. How much is the profit that the shipper is making? It is like the shipper is fighting against government. It is not right. Customs alone made over one trillion Naira and under normal circumstances, once your goods have been cleared, I don’t think the Nigeria Customs Service should go after that same goods that have been released by their own officers even as far as to the market.  What are you implying? You are telling everybody that our country has no security; laws are not being obeyed, by whom, by the same government agencies?”

The SALS boss added that the association was campaigning for a new port order noting that he would be glad to pay his duty to the customs without anybody saying pay one third to the government, give me one third and you take one third.

“So, we get the government to take one third, somebody else take one third and the importer takes one third, of course he is going to do that if he is protected. So, who is the cause of the problem? Now, you are chasing shippers up and down, people are closing down their businesses, because of a transaction of ten years, you want to collect the money, is it their fault? It is a system they met in this country and we think that the senate in their wisdom will understand that shippers are not the ones destroying this country at all. They met a system that paid off to certain people and others want to cut corners, they cut corners and they get away with it. Where did cutting of corners start from?  We expect the senate to pluck that loophole.

“And that is why I am making this appeal because if this probe continues like this, a lot of people are sacking their workers now, they cannot afford to pay for funds they have forgotten about ten years ago, they cannot afford it. Will they go and take a loan from the bank and pay debt? If they take a loan, they would want to use the loan to pursue a particular course and now they are asking them to pay for something they have paid before. We are not against the senate; we want them to pluck that loophole and everybody will pay their duty, smuggling will be curtailed and we are begging them. I am appealing to them on behalf of the shippers”.

He however appealed to the senate to enact a law that would protect the cargo and to design a system where everybody will be happy to pay duty to the government adding that “this is why we are asking the senate to be a little bit compassionate on our members because we don’t have any other country to run to”.

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