POF: ANLCA visits TICT, accuses management of using CRFFN to extort freight forwarders


The executives of the Tincan Island chapter of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) yesterday stormed the Tincan Island Container Terminal (TICT) where they accused the management of the terminal of using the collection of the Practitioners Operating Fee (POF) instituted by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to extort freight forwarders.

Speaking during the visit, the Chairman of ANLCA, Tincan Island chapter, Mr. Ojo Peter Akintoye alleged that freight forwarders were made to pay the sum of N5,000 by the staff of the terminal as against N1,000 and N2,000 payable for 20ft container and 40ft container as stipulated by CRFFN because such freight forwarders were yet to update their registration with the council.

Akintoye observed that the terminal was now using that avenue to extort his members adding that they object to it and were not going to accept it.

He wondered why it was only the TICT that was enforcing the payment of the POF when other terminal operators who equally received a letter from the Ministers of Finance and Transportation to start enforcement of the payment were yet to enforce it in their various terminals at the western ports.

His words, “Now, it is only TICT that is giving us this problem. The letter sent to you by the Chairman of your association, that is terminal operators’ Chairman, Madam Vicky Haastrup was not only sent to TICT, it was sent to all the terminal operators within the western zone and till now I am talking to you sir, it is only TICT that is forcing this payment on our members and we are going to resist it.

“We are not saying that government should not collect the money, they have lobbied their way to go to government, see how the Minister through his influence passes it to law. We are okay, we can also challenge that law in the court of law and note that even some stakeholders have taken CRFFN to court in respect of this POF and there is no judgement on that yet which means that the status quo should remain. But instead of them to allow the status quo to remain, they came behind to lobby themselves to issue a letter to you people to start enforcing the payment on us.

“And the most painful part of it is that, when you want people to pay POF when you are aware that you have not registered them and that about 75 per cent of them have not updated their registration with CRFFN, why can’t you call for that registration first. CRFFN is not calling for that registration first and to update all the freight forwarders in the port either by licensed or by individual and ensure that they are on your platform and then, begin the collection of this money.

“For your information, I have my own consignment here today and they are demanding for N5,000 instead of N1,000 or N2,000 as the case may be because my company has not finished with CRFFN registration update. So, somebody is now using that avenue to extort our members and we say no to it, we are not going to accept it. Before we turn it to, because the only language Nigerians understand is either we withdraw our service or we say we are going on strike but before we do that, being a company that we are familiar with, that we started together with most of your staff here, we decided that there is the need to pay you guys a visit and explain our own side to you so that before it turns to a situation where we cannot control our boys and you start calling us and believe that we are the ones instigating them against your company.

“The other terminal operators understand what is on ground and that is why they want to sensitize the people before they go fully into enforcing this payment. If the court has given a judgement on it for collection or the stakeholders have a dialogue within themselves and agree that CRFFN should go ahead with the collection, we don’t have problem with that but now, the problem we are having is TICT is using the avenue of CRFFN to extort our people because, we also heard that where they are paying this money is also owned by TICT where they are collecting the N5,000.

“I don’t want to indict CRFFN yet because investigation is ongoing but if the CRFFN has collided with TICT to add another injury at this period that the entire world is facing challenges in the economy, then, we say no it.”

While insisting that the POF was meant for the freight forwarders as it was their money, the ANLCA Chairman maintained that they were supposed to be the ones that own the money but the process was hijacked by the CRFFN.

“CRFFN is an Act established by government and I don’t see why CRFFN should be the one to collect our own money for us but let us even assume that it is part of the regulatory functions of the CRFFN, regulating us does not mean they should force us to pay the money that belongs to us”, he said.

Responding, the Head, Documentation Department, TICT, Mr. Greg Sikpi said that the TICT has noted their grievances and that they would find a way of resolving them officially even as he added that it may be as a result of their agitations that the Commissioner of Police invited them for a talk today.

Sikpi however, described the CRFFN as a stillbirth as it was supposed to be like other professional bodies devoid of government involvement.

His word, “For me, I am seeing CRFFN as a stillbirth. Why do I say that? Because CRFFN was supposed to be like a professional body just like others. We have ICAN, we have NBA, We NUJ, we have COREN, all this things, you will never see government involvement. Government in CRFFN is like he who pays the piper, dictates the tune, so, there is no way it will work.

“But we have to, like in this agreement, when it came, we were like; CRFFN has been coming to us over the years saying we should include POF in the debit note and I said no, it is not possible; it was not part of the lease agreement to be working for you. But the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport compelled us to enter into this agreement with the CRFFN.

“I am surprised, I have read it that other terminals are not enforcing it and I have reported it back to my management but they haven’t come out to say something definite on the matter. So, I am sure the issue will be resolved tomorrow (today) when we meet at the Commissioner of Police office.

Photo: The Executive Chairman of ANLCA, Tincan Island Chapter, Mr. Ojo Peter Akintoye.

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