The desire by the leadership of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) to fast-track Customs brokerage practice in Nigeria to meet international best practices, and also collaborate with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and other relevant agencies to improve revenue generation, have been the major reasons why members have not disrupted operations in the ports, despite the alleged numerous problems facing them.
The ANLCA National President, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, when he led a delegation of top officers of the Association on a working visit to the NCS Apapa Area Command last Tuesday.
Shittu told the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Comptroller Charles Edike, and other top brass of the Command, who received him and his entourage, that the ANLCA leadership has resisted a great deal of alleged provocation from the terminal operators and shipping companies, which, according to him, would have warranted the shutting down of the terminals.
The ANLCA boss said that, unlike in the past, the current ANLCA leadership believes in using dialogue to solve issues, noting that this has proven itself to be more effective in getting the desired results.
Shittu explained that ANLCA members are being trained and re-trained to orientate them on international best practices of the profession.
He said that the profession has moved from the old system to e-transaction, and the need for improved education through training and re-training has become more necessary than ever before.
The ANLCA boss said that the journey towards total professionalism, which the leadership has started, was irreversible, and urged all members to take advantage of the opportunities opened to them.
He appealed to Comptroller-General of Customs Dikko Inde Abdullahi to partner with ANLCA to give quality training to its members.
On the problems encountered by licensed Customs agents, Shittu frowned at the situation where the Customs gives value, only for an alert to be issued on the same assignment.
The ANLCA boss urged the CAC to check this, noting that such was against the norm.
Shittu advised agents to also demand for the list of content of any assignment their clients give them to handle, warning them against delving into clearing of contraband goods, even as he advised them to embrace compliance.
Responding, Edike, who thanked the ANLCA chieftains for the working visit, disclosed that in all the sections and commands he had worked, his watchword to agents has always been, ‘’always account for every bill of lading.’’
The CAC reiterated his support for Customs brokers to take their rightful place in the cargo clearing business, warning them to desist from using their companies’ names to stamp for non-licensed people.
Edike said that when he arrived to assume office as CAC at Apapa, he had had to decongest the port by sending out a total of 4,900 containers to other areas to reduce the pressure and resultant tension in the system. He assured the ANLCA delegation that its complaints would be addressed, but added that those complaining about ‘’alert’’ must come with clean hands.
He explained that an alert is not a directive, but a warning which means the following: ‘’take care’’, “watch out”, and “don’t be negligent’’.
According to him, alerts from Customs Headquarters and other areas are issued due to certain things noticed in documentation.
The CAC promised to look into the issue of alert and asked any agent who had complaints on any abnormal alert, to report this.
The CAC called for better relationship between Customs officers and agents, cautioning officers not to give value to items that needed risk assessment report (RAR).
He also warned officers against using so-called camp boys, adding that a directive has been given to that effect.
The visit of the ANLCA National President also took him and his entourage to the cargo examination bay of APM Terminals Limited, where an official of the company, Mr. Daniel Odibe, promised that everything would be done to make the place more conducive by the first week of October.
Daniel showed the ANLCA team the five new cranes acquired by the company and deployed at the terminal, adding that five more were being expected soon.
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