Agents battle Amaechi, CRFFN over fresh moves to collect POF

Clearing agents and the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) may be heading for a fresh face-off over moves by the council to use the Ministry of Transportation to compel collection of the controversial Practitioners Operating Fee (POF).

SHIPS & PORTS DAILY gathered that the CRFFN may have misled the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi into issuing a directive to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to forcefully collect the controversial POF, which was suspended by the Federal Government in February 2015, through shipping companies and terminal operators.

Amaechi had in January granted approval for the collection of the POF despite a subsisting order of interlocutory injunction filed by the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) restraining the CRFFN and the Federal Ministry of Transportation from implementing the POF.

Reacting to the development, former National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Chief Ernest Elochukwu said ANLCA would useevery legitimate avenue to stop collection of the controversial levy.

“I am not talking as the President of ANLCA but as a member who is involved in this and you can be assured that we can’t take it lying low especially given this government’s position on the issue of discouraging corruption.

“ANLCA as a responsible body will do all it takes to let the authorities know that what we are talking about is about corruption, it is about illegality. For instance turning transaction fee without legislation into POF or whatever it is called; on its own is an illegality because some of us need to know how the issue of POF came about in the place,” Elochukwu who heads an ANLCA special committee on the levy, told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY on Friday.

National Publicity Secretary of ANLCA, Kayode Farinto echoed the same position stating, “We are not in banana republic and we are going to kick against it if it is true. Not even when everybody is saying charges in our industry is very high and there is lull in business.

“In whose interest is POF and what has CRFFN contributed and why is the Minister giving directive that the POF be collected knowing fully well that the case is in court?”

On his part, National President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agent (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero described the fresh move by CRFFN as illegal stating that the Council is only empowered to collect the POF through its governing council, which has not been reconstituted.

He wondered why Amaechi is getting himself involved in the controversial collection of the fee.

“It is an illegal act, it is not done. Under what law is the Minister going to do that? Since there is no board, there is no council.

“Why is the minister putting himself in this kind of controversy? He should not put himself into a problem he will regret. He should look at the law because when there is no board there is no council.

“The Minister should confine himself to areas that have to do with his powers. Under the CRFFN law, he does not have such regulatory powers,” he said.

The controversial POF is expected to fetch CRFFN over two billion annually if collected as it applies to all cargoes imported into Nigeria

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