By Stella Okocha
(L-R) Compt Garba, Dr Aniebonam and Chief Uche Increase during NAGAFF visit to FOU on Wed
The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), has called on the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to make proper examination declaration at the ports.
Founder of NAGAFF, Dr Boniface Aniebonam, made this demand on Wednesday during a working visit to the Customs Area Controller (CAC) of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A Ikeja, Compt Mohammed Uba Garba.
Aniebonam told the CAC that it’s a fact that some agents make false declaration and it is the duty of the NCS to interdict in the breaches of Customs law, but they should also try to fish out corrupt officers who are engaged in revenue theft.
“CAC please you should try and find out Customs officers who violate the law before they put you in trouble with the public and the clearing agents”.
While responding to the founder, CAC Mohammed told the NAGAFF delegates that they have been having meetings with the bonded terminals on examination and that the results of the meetings will surface in the nearest future.
He also told Aniebonam and his team that NAGAFF is the most coordinated and organized association he knows and some of their members are more knowledgeable than some Customs officers.
“Our goal is to make sure that government revenue is protected and this can happen with the association in full participation. Please I appeal to you the freight forwarders to make your declaration as honest as possible “, he said.
The president of NAGAFF, Forwarder Increase Uche also told the CAC that they were familiar and conversant with the primary duty of FOU as an intervention force of the service but they are afraid that such powers have been abused by Customs officers.
“The inherent power to patrol freely within the territorial boundaries of Nigeria, to search persons, vehicles, ships and enter premises where there is reasonable suspicion of breach on Customs related matters are not in doubt. We do not have any problem with the section of the law that back up such actions, but rather we are worried over the inherent abuse in deploying such powers “.
Uche also told the FOU boss that another very important aspect of Customs formalities is the way and manner they issue Customs Licenses to practitioners; adding that the greatest threat to Customs revenue collection is the concept of issuing licenses to corporate bodies.
“We are all aware that under the relevant sections of the Customs law enabling authorization of licensed Customs agents (153-156) there are provisions for natural persons to be licensed by the Customs to perform the functions of a declarant rather than corporate as it stands now. It is no longer news that revenue criminals hide under the corporate veil to commit revenue offences. We therefore wish to advocate and encourage the Customs to start a process that will enhance and enable integrity in our declarations for Customs purposes and to advance the course of doing business with ease at the ports”.
The CAC attention was also called upon to give an enlightenment on the happenings at the checkpoints in Benin, Edo state and Asaba in Delta state and any other checkpoint outside 40km from the border entry points.
In response to the issuance of license, the CAC told NAGAFF that he has limited power to take decision but however promised to carry their message to the higher authority.
On his comment to the checkpoint, he has this to say. “Outside 40km is a patrol base that should not stay more than 24hours. Anything outside that, you have the ability to report to relevant authorities for proper punishment”.
Mohammed also accepted the invitation to visit the NAGAFF Village, so as to sensitize a larger number of freight forwarders.