The African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) has given reasons why it is opposed to the collection of the Practitioners Operating fee (POF) by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
It will be recalled that the CRFFN had on Monday 1st March, 2021 commenced the collection of the POF one year after its flag off in Lagos. With the advent of the POF, 20ft container is expected to pay the sum of N1,000 while 40ft container is to pay N2,000 among others.
However, speaking in a chat with our correspondent in Lagos yesterday, the President, APFFLON, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite explained that the POF was not a bad concept but the people were against its collection now for many reasons.
Giving his reasons, Ogunojemite cited the absence of a substantive Governing Council for CRFFN as one the reasons they were opposed to the collection of the fee.
He recalled that the tenure of the immediate past governing council members expired in November last year noting that there was no reason only the Registrar could be in charge of the collection.
“And if peradventure POF needs to be collected, they must call for the election of Board members. In fact, it is so sad that after the tenure of the immediate past governing council members has expired, there is a gap. There must be an interim Board to oversee this collection.
“Secondly, this POF collection is before the national assembly –senate, which has not been ratified. So, how can they go for collection when the senate has not ratified the collection? The only thing that they have which was signed by Abubakar Tsanni and the Registrar is the Gazette enumerating the amount of money to be collected on 20ft and 40ft containers, the land border and at the airport. Section 6 of the CRFFN Act that talks about the revenue of the council did not mention POF.
“If I should go further, there is a lot of allegations of financial impropriety against the Registrar of CRFFN, he should come out and clear himself on these allegations which he has not done up till today. So, those were the reasons why we are standing against the collection of POF at the moment”, he stated.
When reminded that the Registrar is the Chief Executive Officer of the Council who can administer the Council with his management with or without the Governing Council, he said, “The Board must run the operations because the board represents the freight forwarders in that council. Tell me any other council like NBA, NUT and the NUJ that regulate the activities of Journalists, do they have bricklayers or carpenter there. Obviously, the CRFFN itself must comprise of the freight forwarders to run their affairs. So, politically hijacking the council is something we are not happy with and that is what is bringing about the resistance that you just mentioned.
“Why are they giving them budget when they want to collect POF? And under the budget, money is allocated for freight forwarders’ training, what have they done for the freight forwarders? And part of their function is capacity building of freight forwarders, training and retraining, tell me, how many of those trainings have they carried out within the last two years and half that they have been in operation?”
Asked whether the POF collection is ongoing at the moment, he said, “The collection is not ongoing; they are only accumulating rent and demurrages for practitioners at the port. People are forcibly being deprived and as you can see, people have been protesting. The fact of this case is that we are helpless in this country and we do not know where to channel our cries to.
“We are not saying that the POF will not be collected but there must be clarity as to the purpose of the collection and what to be done with it because the budget being given to the council has not been effectively implemented. I remember telling you in one of my interviews with you last year that at the moment, Nigeria is not a member of FIATA; these are the monies that they supposed to use to implement those things. So, they should be able to clear the air and you must engage and sensitize people. We want to see the value of the money collected.
“Does the Nigerian Bar Association tax lawyers on number of cases that they do? Does the NUJ tax you people on the number of advert you carried on your medium? You journalists are members of NUJ just as we are members of CRFFN. So, levying us on number of containers we clear amounts to multiple taxation. So, that the reason why we called for clarity on this. POF should be collected but not on all containers. It is only the Nigeria Customs Service that is empowered to be collecting levy on consignments.”
Photo: APFFLON President, Mr. Frank Ogunojemite.
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