CRFFN is a government agency, Court rules

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has laid the controversy surrounding the status of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to rest as it ruled that the body is an agency of the Federal Government.

Delivering judgment in a case instituted by two freight forwarders namely Ejike Nweke and Philip Nwankwo against the CRFFN, Judge Saliu Saidu said, “The Plaintiff/Applicant must first know that the CRFFN is not a professional association and this can clearly be seen from the power conferred on the Minister and the representation of some federal ministry and federal government agency on the council.

“To the extent that it is easy to hold that the council is on extension of the government power to create agency and therefore an agency of federal government of Nigeria.”

Nweke and Nwankwo had approached the court in December 2011 to seek the determination of the total number of persons required to constitute the CRFFN governing council under section 2 (1) (a)-(g) of the CRFFN Act 2000 and to know if the provision of the third schedule to the CRFFN Act 2000 excludes the operation of section 2 (1) (g) in the composition of the maiden council of the CRFFN and to determine if the defendant is a public parastatal or government agency in view of the provisions of paragraph 10 of the 1st schedule to the CRFFN Act, 2007.

The plaintiffs also sought to know who a freight forwarder is within the meaning of CRFFN Act 2006 and if a corporate person is entitled to be registered as a freight forwarder pursuant to section 18(i) in view of the mandatory registration requirements stipulated in section 13 (1) – (3).

But while delivering his judgement on the plaintiffs’ application, the judge stated: “Section 18(1) of the CRFFN is very clear it states at the council shall register annually all organisations or firms performing freight forwarding services. Which in section 30 of the Act provides that freight forwarder means any person or company who arranges the carriage or movement of goods and associated formalities on behalf of an importer or exporter along the international boundaries of sea ports, cargo airports or land border stations.

“The registration of company as registered freight forwarder are clearly confirmed by the above provision and nothing more is intended by the law makers and I hold that corporate body can be registered as freight forwarder within the CRFFN Act 2007.

“The last issue I am to consider is the number of persons required to constitute the membership of the counsel. That is, interpretation of section 1(a)-(g) of CRFFN Act.

“On the above, I adopt the interpretation of the Learned Attorney General of the Federation Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) as the said section 2 (1) – (g) as the correct interpretation of the same.

“I completely concur with the interpretation contained in exhibit A attached to the application before the court and the same shall be my interpretation of the said section 2 (l)(a)-(g) of CRFFN Act 2007.”

While dismissing the suit against CRFFN, Saidu said, “I have not seen anything before the court to warrant the granting of any of the reliefs sought by the applicant. I hereby refuse the reliefs sought and dismiss the application accordingly.”