Freight forwarders accuse customs of collecting bribe to fast-track PAAR
- Kick against withdrawal of CIU from the ports
The Association Registered Freight Forwarders Nigeria (AREFFN) has said that a major hindrance to the success of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) is the play of prejudice in its issuance.
AREFFN President, Dr. Frank Ukor, in an exclusive chat with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, said a syndicate, working hand in glove with yet to be identified customs officers, is collecting kickbacks from importers who are willing to pay their way through to obtain the clearing document.
He said: “Some people within the system are trying to frustrate this good idea the Customs has brought in. There are people who applied for PAAR two months ago and up till now they have not gotten and there are people who applied and in two days they got their PAAR. I found out that somewhere along the line if you pay certain amount of money into certain account you would get your PAAR fast. This is how they play out the game. This syndicate works with people at Abuja where they issue this PAAR. The top management of Customs is working very hard but the people they put in there are frustrating every move they are making to make the PAAR work.”
Ukor called on the Customs management to engage the service of an independent firm to investigate the issuance of PAAR.
The AREFF president also spoke about the directive from the Customs top management ordering the withdrawal of the Customs Intelligence Unit (CIU) from the ports kicking against this directive.
He said: “I don’t know what brought about asking the CIU to leave the ports. The Customs have every right to take decision about the Service but some of the decisions are counterproductive. Like in the case of asking CIU not to take part in examination has led to resident officers being afraid to release containers because most of the containers are reported open and closed. When a container is just opened and closed it is suspected of carrying contraband so if the resident officers release such containers they will be indicted. Officers are afraid of losing their jobs because of the fear of CIU. Hitherto CIU was working in collaboration with the officers and nobody was afraid of losing their jobs because nobody was writing very negative reports but with what is happening now it will be difficult.”
He appealed to the customs management to allow CIU to participate in cargo clearance so that containers can be released and not accumulate demurrages or run into overtime to the detriment of importers and their clearing agents.
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