Agents say Customs CG ‘is too slow’

Freight forwarders under the aegis of Concerned Accredited Freight Forwarding Associations (CAFFA) have expressed their disappointment towards the slow pace of Customs activities and continued extortion of agents by officers at the port, more than four weeks after the new Comptroller General; Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) replaced Dikko Abdullahi.

The freight forwarders in a joint statement signed by the Presidents of the four associations that make up CAFFA namely National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF); National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA); Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN) and National Association of Air Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC) said Ali has failed to hit the ground running.

According to the agents, the expectation has been that by now Col. Ali would have visited the ports and strategic border locations with a view to conferring with the stakeholders but the expectations they say are fast disappearing.

The y said, “The freight forwarders who are looking forward to be saved from the inexplicable extortion in the ports are getting disillusioned. The expectation has been that by now the CGC should have visited the ports and strategic border locations with a view to conferring with the stakeholders.

“At the moment the rate of corruption has increased because of uncertainty.  At present it is to grab whatever you can because you do not know what happens next.  The instances of alert application from unauthorized units of Area Project Manager’s desk, valuation, CIU, enforcement and others have continued in a regrettable proportion.  The instances of frivolous and unsubstantiated demand notes from the valuation unit have become unbearable including the extortion therein.

“The Comptroller General should hit the ground and be running to maintain the tempo of the anticorruption crusade of Mr. President.  The impression at the ports at the moment is that he is being reluctant to effect his assigned duty especially wearing Customs uniform after 20 years of civilian life.

“If he does not hit ground running on matters of corruption it may appear that Mr. President is not properly briefed about the corruption level in the Nigeria seaports and border locations.

“In the instance, there is the need to bridge the gap between the clearing costs at the seaports, airports and border stations.  The inherent differential in the cost of clearing goods out of Customs control at Jibiya border, Idiroko and Seme with Onne ports, Apapa and Tin Can are so much without realising that the importers compete in the same market.  Therefore the urgent need for universal application of value for imported goods in all Customs commands cannot be over emphasised.”

They also claimed that Ali’s warning with regard to non compliance to import regulations on matters of concealment and false declaration has not only created opportunity for extortion at the port but has also increased smuggling activities.

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