Maritime stakeholders frown over corruption allegation against Customs


… Tanko warns against blackmailing NCS

Stakeholders in the maritime industry have voiced their displeasure over the recent media outburst by some freight forwarders against the operations of Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service and the CG’s Strike Force.

It would be recalled that Fwdr. Emeka Nwosu , the Tincan chapter Chairman of the African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) and Fwdr. Steve Ibe, President Patriot Anti Corruption Initiative in Nigeria had in an interview, described FOU Zone A and Strike Force Customs officers as extortionists.

In his reaction, the National Chairman, NAGAFF 100% Compliance Team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko condemned such unverified allegations, describing it as malicious and baseless.

Alhaji Tanko warned them to desist from blackmailing those who are diligently performing their duties and be compliant to the extant Customs laws as they engage in their freight forwarding activities.

He opined that most of them pointing accusing fingers on Customs engage in wrong classifications, false declarations of cargoes , underpayment of Customs duty among others and wondered why such willful infractions should not be surcharged.

Tanko who is currently a member of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, CRFFN Governing Council advised importers and freight agents to approach their business with dignity and respect in order to avoid interceptions, extra charges and forfeiture of their cargoes.

“You remember when we started this campaign on compliance, we are not the ones that insisted on it, it is the Customs, in fact, the government. They are the people accusing us that we freight forwarders at not compliant.

“That is the main reason why NAGAFF decided to float this compliance team. Remember today, we are two years plus now. We started from the importers, those are the people we relate with directly. They are our customers, we spent six months educating them to do the right thing and the benefits of complying as well as the inherent dangers of doing the wrong thing. A lot of people loose their containers because they refused to do the right thing.

“Declare what you have, like am having one thousand pieces of generator, classify it correctly, examine your container and pay the right duty.

“Whether one million people are on the road, did that concern you, the answer is no! When they say give me your documents, you give them your documents. They examine it and found you have one thousand pieces of generator, are they going to give you another DN, the answer is no.

“Do we do the right thing? That is the problem and we have been campaigning about it and our members now see us as their enemies. If you do the right thing, you cannot be afraid of anyone. You go home and sleep. The highest thing, you plead on the value, they give it to you.

“The person you saw in that video castigating Customs is the very person I saw at Apapa Command pleading with the Area Controller who wanted to seize his container. The same person now went on air complaining without shame. Let’s talk to ourselves. Let’s do the right thing.

“I had to go to Strike Force and I found out that out of 100 letters of invitation for examination, 90% are on false declaration and they raised DN after examination and confirmation.

“I had a letter of invite for examination, the containers were examined and they found nothing. They wrote satisfactory and then released the container.

“What we should complain of is about the Police who detain and examine container. What concerns Police with duty payment? They write series of letter inviting an agent to come and explain about a container that he had already delivered.

“What we are saying is that we give room for someone to come and intimidate us”, Tanko opined.

Speaking also, the Western Zone Coordinator, 100% Compliance Team, Dr. Fred Ajuzie expressed surprised at the allegations levelled against Nigeria Customs Service by APFFLON chieftain, Fwdr. Godfrey Nwosu and Chief Steve Ibe, President, Patriot Anti Corruption Initiative in Nigeria noting that it came to him as a surprise.

Dr. Ajuzie stressed that indicting Customs who are carrying out their on legitimate duties is uncalled for adding that it shows they (accusers) are not compliant to the rules of engagement.

“This is what we are preaching to our members, freight forwarders to be compliant. If they are compliant, would anyone have the right to extort money from them? If you see any freight forwarder complaining, it means he is not compliant. He is engaging in false declaration of cargo.

“The 100% Compliance Team of NAGAFF frowns at any freight forwarder who is not doing the right thing”, he added.

He described the FOU and CG Strike Force officers as thorough professionals who go about their lawful duties fearlessly without minding who is involved adding, “they don’t know who you are. Once they see your document and found it wanting, they pick your container straight to their warehouse.

“FOU and Strike Force now are very tense in terms of enforcement. They are on ground and the system they are using now is different from the old system. It is not FOU with road blocks, no! You will not see them, but they will come after your cargo immediately they find out that what you declare is different from what they saw. They take your cargo to their warehouse and then raise DN or give a seizure.

“I have never seen where they are demanding for money. It is the freight forwarders that begs them to accept money. They won’t give you that chance”, he concluded.

Photo: Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko , National Chairman, NAGAFF 100% Compliance Team.

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