Aniebonam using his boys, contacts to intimidate customs officers – Deputy Comptroller


A Deputy Comptroller of Customs (name withheld) has accused the founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam of using his boys, contacts as well as the media to intimidate customs officers on duty to do his bidding.

Dr. Aniebonam had in chat with newsmen in Lagos last week accused the Deputy Comptroller of high handedness in handling freight forwarders’ job assigned to her adding that the officer would carry herself with arrogance.

Speaking about the officer in question, the founder said, “There are things that I have raised here that are very critical, I am not saying everything is going well; things are not going too well. Customs may even make more money than what they are getting, customs has the opportunity to make more money than what we are all jubilating over but the problem is that there is no uniform application of standards.

“As I am talking to you now, a lady in Unity terminal, a customs officer at the rank of Deputy Comptroller at Unity terminal released a consignment, the same consignment came again, it became a new ball game which right now is becoming an issue. Now, you did examination since on Thursday last week (two weeks ago) and Inspection Act is just made yesterday (last week Wednesday) because she was there negotiating and when you call her and speak to her, she will start telling you go to hell, you cannot do anything. And when she got annoyed, she went into Inspection Act and contradicted herself, forgetting that she had release the same consignment just two weeks ago and collected a bribe of N500,000. Now, the same consignment came, she is asking for N800,000 and she is making noise.

“Look at what I am telling you now, is it proper? But when you don’t communicate, these are things one at our level will say look at what is happening and it will be resolved but you call somebody, he doesn’t pick your calls, he doesn’t talk to you, is he not encouraging all those nonsense? See, left for us in NAGAFF, we are not prepared for all these rubbish. Put down your container, examine your container, take inventory, customs should assess your container, you pay and go and collect your practicing fee.

“And people like us, when we speak, you say ah! Dr. Aniebonam is a trouble maker. What trouble? I am the most peaceful person you will ever meet in life. I am so angry right now.  Carry this news let somebody from customs call me, let them call me from Abuja and say Doctor, what are you saying? Then, I will show them the officer and give the document and let us ask the officer. See, a businessman has a mandate to make profit, therefore, to cheat means nothing to him. If he can cheat and make money and make profit, that is for them. So, the essence of having agents of government is to protect the interest of the government.

“Look at what an officer is doing now. Is she now protecting the interest of the government? Is she not in position to balance the operations and she is nakedly talking rubbish saying that nobody can do anything to her, probably, for whichever returns she is making anywhere. And I want somebody from that customs headquarters to call me and say, Doctor, what is it? Let them call me and I will show them and I will give them evidence, I will say look at this paper, look at what this officer has done and look at what she is saying with material evidence. So, if there are no communication, you call from now till tomorrow, for where, those that will solve that problem, they will not. That means, one can conclude that they are encouraging them.”

Speaking on the allegations, the Deputy Comptroller of Customs who would not want her name in print because she does not have the permission to speak to the media noted that Aniebonam’s boys were full of arrogance and would be carrying themselves as if they own any customs office as they would want to be given priority attention whenever they come to your office with jobs bearing Dr. Aniebonam’s company.

She went on to say that once you tell them to follow laid down protocols in following up their jobs, they would start making trouble and before you know it, they would call Dr. Aniebonam and feed him with lies and he would in turn, pick up his phone and started harassing the officer in question into submission.

In her words, “I have been releasing his job, I was even 2 stars. We, new officers, they will put Aniebonam’s job on our table, they will want us to release it without looking at it because they are scared of him that he will blacklist them, he will carry them to where they will say, okay that was a very bad officer. That time we didn’t know anything, our Oga say make we release, we go release.

“But when we started growing up and I reach this level and I will allow Aniebonam to intimidate me again at this level, at this age? When he had intimidated our seniors when we were still younger and he will continue to intimidate me when I am about to go? Why? Am I not human being? He will use media to intimidate; he will tell stories wey no happen, he will say that particular officer is bad. Unfortunately for him, I am a very quiet type, nobody go talk say I don do am anything because I no dey pass my level.”

She went on to show the journalists some documentary evidence which showed that Dr. Aniebonam’s company, Ocean Star Shipping engaged in false declaration of cargo when it declared that the said consignment contained Pin Insulator rather than Bundles of Coated Roofing Sheet it was later discovered to be carrying.

According to her, Aniebonam’s company even though it declared falsely, went on to pay N9 million as duty for 2x20ft containers while another company, Ekwemado Gold Limited that had similar item paid the sum of N18 million as duty.

She said, “One person came here yesterday, that was the person that called me. He said has two containers of the same item and his CIF is N18 million, I have not done it. Before man and God, the earmark million for the CIF of the 20 feet for that job is N5 million. If you are able to knack N5 million, you are good to go. This man carried two containers and paid N18 million, what do you want me to do? I should refer the man? I should delay him? I should say, okay, you go enter query? And you, you carried two containers, you paid N9 million, are they the same? You short paid and you don’t want anybody to talk about it and you don’t want valuation.

“The first work this guy (Aniebonam’s boy) brought, it was not assigned to me because it was from APMT, he didn’t even know because he didn’t go and check it whether they have assigned it or not. He wanted me to do it like that, then, I said no, I am not going to do it like that, he kept on begging. So, in the process of begging, somebody don see alert. I would have referred it because the job was staying too long in the system and they put it and they told him to go and pay for DN. So, he didn’t find it funny. That time they said he (Aniebonam)was at the hospital, so, he was reporting to him, he was annoyed. So, he was waiting until he get to the office and ask for the person, make im lambast the person. Unfortunately for him, when he came from his illness, they have the same type of business and the guy came and I say ah ah! Why are they doing this? It is still the same thing they are doing. He said I should collect money and I said I don’t want to collect. Who wants to collect money from Aniebonam? Aniebonam that could carry you to the world, na you want to do business with Aniebonam? No be me, I said I don’t want your money.

“I will refer you to Q & A and the reason I am referring you to Apapa is let them handle your case. I said I don’t have liver to handle Aniebonam case because he will give you wahala. The wahala of I go report you up and down to CG. No be the same wahala make him send press make them come see me? In my life, they never send press make them come check my job because I no dey pass my level, I don have liver.

“When this man come back (from the hospital), because I didn’t know that has come back, the boy come tell am say that woman that refused to do our job that day no wan do am again ooo! Na im I was in this office, Doctor carry phone, ‘Hello’, he was not using his line, ‘I was sick, I was not around, they said you refused to do their job, you wasted their time, you did this, you did that. I will tell you, I was a customs officer before, I was 34 number. Let me tell you, there is nobody I don’t know. I have talked to people concerning you. I will do this, I will do that.’ I kept quiet and this man kept on lambasting me. The person you dey lambast, you no know am. If he is a reasonable person, he will say this person wey I dey talk to wey no say anything will have something in her mind. Na im he talk finish, I said yes, I am really embarrassed and I am really sorry that you as an elderly person will hear something from your boys and will not ask me before you start lambasting me.

“Very early in the morning the following day, this man don wake me up and continued lambasting me. Later in the morning, na im the boy come come, carry one big envelope like this, I said carry your money dey go, I don’t want your money. If you want to collect money from somebody, is it the person that has threatened to report you everywhere? I said I am sending your job to CPC, na Controller go fit release your bad job, me I no reach level to release your Oga job because I am tired of your Oga job.”

The DC further revealed that Dr. Aniebonam later on sent one of his boys to take pictures of her while in the office and that of his pending job and sent to the Customs Area Controller in Apapa as well as to the APM claiming it was another person’s job that she was doing with an intent to blackmail her before her boss.

She however advised Dr. Aniebonam to always look very well before he select who to fight adding that she was not the type of office he should fight even as she advised him to caution his boys and always get details of the matter before reacting. She further advised him to desist from threatening a proper customs officer assigned to carry out his duty on behalf of the federal Government.

Photo: Founder, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam.

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