Agents issue 21 days ultimatum over Customs, NPA, other charges

Prince-Olayiwola-Shittu

The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has issued a 21-day ultimatum, threatening that its members will withdraw their services from the ports if arbitrary charges being collected by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Police and other agencies of government continues.

The agents also kicked against the collection of dollars by Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) from terminal operators, which they claimed is adding to the cost of doing business at the ports.

A statement issued at the weekend by the National Publicity Secretary of ANLCA, Kayode Farinto, said that the association gave the ultimatum a meeting held last week.

According to the statement, “ANLCA having met for 2 days, 15th through 16th of March,2017, has articulated the problems militating against cargo clearance from Nigerian ports as follows:

“That the Nigeria Customs Service as the prime statutory agency at the ports engages in a practice that is tantamount to approbating and reprobating. The Nigeria Customs service issues the Pre -Arrival Assessment Reports (PAAR), undertakes the assessment and subsequently release of cargoes from the ports with multiplicity of units in the clearance chain, which are unnecessarily encumbered by incessant alerts and arbitrary jack up of customs duties which is not in compliance with international valuation principles.

“That where underpayments of Customs duty are alleged, the Customs unilaterally blocks (suspends) the Customs agents licences which is not in tandem with section 154 of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA).”

The association also said that officials of the Nigeria Police Force have abandoned their statutory role of providing security at the ports to engage in stoppage of cargo delivery at shipping companies and terminals under the guise of conducting investigation.

Continuing, the association claimed “that the “must-settle-me” syndrome in the activities of such other agencies as DSS, NDLEA, Plant Quarantine, have exacerbated the corrupt tendencies in the maritime industry.

“That the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), though with a lofty and patriotic agenda of minimising the entry of sub-standard goods into the country appears to have abandoned its statutory role of regulation and is now a revenue generating agency through the imposition of high charges for her services.”

“In view of the foregoing, the Association of Nigerian Licensed customs agents (ANLCA) hereby issues a 21-day notice to the general public that its members nationwide will be compelled to withdraw their services, which will in turn shut down the ports, if these pressing issues are not addressed forthwith,” it added.