Barely five years after she was transferred out of the Customs Tin Can Island Port Command, Lagos after frequent face-offs with clearing agents, Comptroller Jayne Shoboiki is in the eye of the storm again.
This time she faces stiff challenges at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMIA), Lagos Command where clearing agents on Monday downed tools following the introduction of a new cargo clearing policy by her office.
The clearing agents had accused the MMIA command headed by Shoboiki of tripling the charges payable for clearance of consignments at the airport.
The clearing agents, in their hundreds, also protested against the directive of the Customs Area Comptroller of the Command, Mrs. Jayne Shoboiki, that all consignments must as from July 13, 2018 be filled out on Form M.
The agents insisted that the policy was retrogressive, stressing that some of the consignments could not come with Form M as they were not major goods.
A clearing agent and member of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at the airport, Chris Nwabuzor, said most of the policies introduced by Shoboiki would not work at the airport as some of their consignments could not fall into the categories set by the command.
Immediately the protest began, Customs at the command locked up its processing centre while the leaderships of the clearing agents ordered their members to vacate the premises.
Clearing agents at the airport later announced that they have commenced an indefinite strike to register their grievances, vowing that they would not resume for work until their grievances were addressed by the command.
“Since this new CAC came onboard, it has been from one crisis to the other. Initially, she claimed that customs introduced new system, which would enhance clearance of cargo at the airport, but with several challenges. In fact, most of the consignments we were supposed to clear entered demurrage in the process.
“Today again, the command sent out a circular that as from July 13, 2018, which is two weeks from now, all consignments, must be on Form M, which is not possible. Form M is for huge consignments, but some of our consignments do not fall into that category. For instance, if you want to clear a one kilogramme goods now, it must be on Form M.
“Even, at the seaport, car importation and clearance does not fall under Form M. how come goods of just one kilogrammme and more will now fall under this category,” Nwabuzor said.
When contacted, spokesman of the command, Haruna Ephraim, confirmed the new clearing policy and the mandatory use of Form M for all cargoes, but said it was not for immediate implementation.
“We have not given any deadline, we just issued them a circular today (Monday) informing them that from July 13, they should make sure all their consignments coming into the country are on Form M.
“We ought to have commenced the policy immediately, but they complained that some of the consignments were already ordered and we gave them enough time to plan ahead,” he said.