…Says association sees NCS as ally
Contrary to a media report, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has said that none of its members was involved in raising allegations of arrogance and corruption against any customs officer during the tour of Bonded Terminals by her 100% Compliance Team.
This is even as it said that none of its members was ever accused of unruly behavior during the exercise.
The founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam who made this clarification in press conference in Apapa, Lagos on Tuesday stated that it had become necessary for the leadership of the association to respond to the controversies generated by an online report with the tittle, “Freight forwarders accuse customs of corruption”, which according to him, was a review of the activities of the 100% Compliance Team during the weeklong tour.
Aniebonam recalled that the report gave an indication of a face-off involving NAGAFF members and customs in one or two Bonded Terminals during the tour.
He said, “The intention of this rebuttal is to correct certain misconceptions that could be read into the report under reference. From the briefing we received from the leadership of the Compliance Team which is at the centre of the ‘controversies’, the visit was largely successful without any serious issue pitting our members against the Nigeria Customs Service or any of its officers. As a matter of fact, our findings revealed that no member of NAGAFF ever raised any allegation of arrogance or corruption against any officer of the NCS as was portrayed in the online report and furthermore, no member of our association was directly accused of any unruly behavior.
“NAGAFF as an association has always seen NCS as an ally and will do everything within the law to ensure that the Service just like other government agencies succeed for the benefit of our great country. For emphasis sake, the reference to a claim in the report that our members accused DC Abang of AML Bonded Terminal of being arrogant and corrupt is very far from the truth. DC Abang is well-known to NAGAFF family and right from his days at Ijora through to his posting as Staff Officer at Apapa terminal, to his meritorious service at the fast-track section until his present assignment as the head of a Bonded Terminal has shown competence, professionalism and diligence to work. We have always seen him as being above board.
“As expected of a security zone which the customs office anywhere and the ports in general represent, there are certain procedures which must be observed before one could go into any of them. So,if certain steps are taken to ensure that the normal procedure is observed in gaining access into any customs premises, that cannot be said to constitute any serious issue involving customs and members of NAGAFF Compliance Team. And if the spirit of the new game is compliance with rules and regulations, why should some people create a scene out of efforts to ensure compliance at any customs office or the pors?”
Aniebonam who is also the National Chairman of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) pointed out that to ensure that there was no issue of mistaken identity, NAGAFF came up with ways of identifying her authentic members anywhere around the ports or terminal adding that they have NAGAFF ID Cards, T-shirts, jackets and caps, all branded in their colour.
“Anybody not putting on any of these does not represent us. We may be using this medium to call on the Enforcement Unit of the Nigeria Customs Service to carry out a thorough investigation into the issue with a view to determining the real identity of those behind those spurious allegations of arrogance and corruption against the NCS or any of its officers. Like we have always said, NAGAFF 100% Compliance Team is not out to witch-hunt any agency or anybody, rather I is to assist the government and its agencies in realizing its objectives while encouraging the shippers/importers and freight forwarders to do the right thing at all times. This does not however indicate that all is well at Bonded Terminals especially.
“Freight forwarders have had cause to complain about the poor services at some of these Bonded Terminals resulting in unpleasant experiences for our members and all those who patronize them. In the spirit of always finding solutions to problems anywhere they rear their ugly heads in the industry, we at NAGAFF always deployed diplomacy to resolve them, although our genuine gestures were not appreciated as we became objects of blackmail. This will not deter us in doing that which we think is best for the greater good of the greater number of our people, the Nigeria Customs Service and indeed, Nigeria as a country”, he submitted.
Photo: The founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam.
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