If not for the quick intervention of the Director General, Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Dr. Kola Faseyitan, there would have been chaos at the Lilypond Container Depot yesterday as freight forwarders and officers of NAQS almost engaged themselves in fisticuff.
The near chaotic situation ensued after some freight forwarders demanded clarification of the actual role of NAQS in cargo clearance.
The agents who expressed their displeasure to the visiting NAQS boss over alleged acts of extortion by his operatives at the terminal said quarantine officers were not supposed to be in the terminal except when needed.
Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Lilypond chapter, Anslem Njameze, said since the service has been incorporated into the Customs single window platform, operativess of the service have no business “roaming inside the terminal”.
“Quarantine Service are also incorporated in the single window so when Customs issues release alert, they should look at containers that need their attention and order Customs not to release until the needed document are obtained.
“The agent is supposed to go to their office to call them to join in the examination because if they don’t do necessary checks, the container will be delayed and it will accrue demurages for the agents.
“Rather than let agents call them, they roam about in the terminal, threating to seize containers even when the consignment is not in the purview of their responsibility,” he said.
Njemaze said other government agencies like the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) who are also keyed into the Customs single window only come to the terminal when alerts are sent to them on containers concerning their operations.
He said NAQS operatives’ involvement should be limited to cargo clearance related to animals, pests or plants.
Public Relation Officer of NAQS, simply identified as Mr Onnkiruba said poor funding of the service by the government has led to its inability to erect offices for its officers thus leading to their “roaming about in the port”.
The meeting however became rowdy when Njamanze accused the NAQS operatives of embarking on “illegal duties”, a comment which did not go down well with the quarantine officers. The meeting ended abruptly as both sides hauled invectives at each other.
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