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Customs agents step up fight against fees

Allege financial mismanagement

By Godfrey Bivbere

HOSTILITY over Practitioners’ Operations Fee (POF) levied on licensed customs agents appears to have been stepped up as the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, has dragged terminal operators into the feud between it and Federal maritime authorities. The parties have been in conflict over the POF ordered by the Ministry of Transportation through the Nigerian Ports Authority. The money is to be collected by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, CRFFN.

Speaking to Maritime Journalists in Lagos, the National Publicity Secretary of ANLCA, Kayode Farinto, said to restrain the collection his association has sued terminal operators and joined them in the existing restraining suit earlier filed in 2015.

Budgetary provisions

He stated: “We completed the filing and have submitted the summons to Secretary of Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria, STOAN, Barr. Boye Uzamot. He has promised to ensure his association does not flout the law because a case is already in court” Further stoking the acrimony Farinto accused the ministry of transportation and CRFFN of financial mismanagement, alleging that about N4.2 billion budgetary provisions for CRFFN cannot be accounted for.

He said,“Talking about funding of CRFFN, last year, more than N700 million was allocated to CRFFN.  In 2017 alone, over N3.5 billion has been allocated to the Council, the budget has been passed, so what is the Registrar doing with money, who is he regulating alone, who has he trained? Nothing has come out of the money that was allocated to them last year and this year. Who has been spending the money?”

The ANLCA spokesman also argued that the CRFFN Governing Council must be properly constituted through an election before any talk of POF could come up.

When contacted, the Registrar of CRFFN, Sir Mike Jukwe, did not pick his call but sent a text message directing Vanguard to call the head of corporate affairs of the Council. In her response, the Head, corporate affairs, CRFFN,  Chinyere Uronta, said the budgeted figure presented by ANLCA was wrong and the facts presented also weree not correct. She, however, disconnected the line when Vanguard asked her to provide the correct figure.

Director of Press of the Ministry of Transportation, Yetunde Shonaike, did not pick the call put through her phone by Vanguard and did not respond to a text message sent to her. Similarly, an aide to Hon. Rotimi Amechi, the minister of transportation, David Iyofo, did not pick his call but responded to the test message directing Vanguard back to the director of press.


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