More headache for ailing CRFFN
• NCMDLCA faction reports Council to Jonathan for allegedly threatening ‘peace at the nation’s ports’
As the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) makes valiant Efforts to rise from its comatose state, impediments to its springing back to active state continue to pile up by the day, SHIPS & PORTS DAILY can authoritatively report.
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY had earlier reported that a stakeholders meeting convened in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, by a former National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Sir Ernest Elochukwu, as part of on-going efforts to reconcile divergent opinions and re-energise the ailing CRFFN, had contended with directives of boycott from the respective leadership of ANLCA and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF).
The latest onslaught against the CRFFN’s return from inaction, it was learnt, is coming from on faction of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), which has written President Goodluck Jonathan to accuse the CRFFN of alleged “threat to the peace at the nation’s ports’ through “wholesome conduct.”
The letter dated 5th August, 2013, a copy of which was sighted by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, was signed by factional NCMDLCA National Secretary, Mr. Uchu Block, and titled: THREAT TO THE PEACE AT THE NATIONS (sic) PORTS BY THE DISSOLVED AND EXPIRED BOARD OF THE COUNCIL OF REGULATION OF FREIGHT FORWARDERS (sic) THROUGH THEIR UNWHOLESOME CONDUCT.
“We of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) wish to bring to the notice of the Federal Government of the unwholesome conduct by some persons who are staff of the dissolved and expired Council to course (sic) the breach of peace in the ports through their activities,” the letter stated.
Quoting copiously from the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) of 2004, and the CRFFN Act 16 of 2007, respectively, the letter argued stoutly that the functions of the Customs agent differed markedly from those of the freight forwarder.
“The function of the licensed Customs agent,” according to the NCMDLCA faction, “is properly defined” in CEMA section 153 (2) as “anything required by this Act to be done by importer, exporter and excise trader, which is more of classification, interpretation and treatment of procedure based on WTO/WCO (World Trade Organisation/World Customs Organisation) as UNCTAD(United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), ETLS (Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Trade Liberalisation Scheme), multilateral and bilateral trade procedures which are conventionally based and enshrined in our domestic and international trade instruments.”
The letter posited that section 30 of the CRFFN Act 16 of 2007 “clearly states ‘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 seaport, cargo airport or land borders.’ ”
The NCMDLCA, faction, therefore, posited that “this definition makes it very clear the function” of the freight forwarder “is that of carriage and movement of goods (transporting and the movement of goods and other formalities), which includes road way bills, terminal delivery order etc, that is if they are employed by the licensed Customs agents, who by international conventions and domestic laws, are only the persons that can give them access by their function into the port.”
The letter averred: “The freight forwarders are not authorised to operate in the port as they are only allowed to operate along the international boundaries based on the interpretation of the Act and not the port.
“The function of the freight forwarder is strange to the operation at the port and should be stipulated properly so as to define their job.”
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY recalls that the CRFFN Registrar/Chief Executive, Sir Mike Jukwe, penultimate Thursday in Lagos, flagged-off the body’s enforcement of practicing standards.
Even as it did not specifically mention this issue of enforcement by the CRFFN of practicing standards in the letter, the NCMDLCA faction was less ambiguous in stating that, by the provisions of section 4 of the CRFFN Act, it is only the constituted Council that has the right to execute the enforcement provisions of the CRFFN Act, noting that under the CRFFN Act, the Registrar and other officials of the CRFFN are “support staff and not members” of the CRFFN, and, therefore, “have no such power, which, if not checked, may constitute threat to our port system.”
The letter stated: “Some members of the National Council of National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents took the Council (CRFFN) to court in order to address the present activities; the case the National Council won at the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal, while the case is ongoing.
“The National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents are trade facilitators, who have; through the professional conduct, contributed immensely to the economy through their involvement in various government committees. We hereby request for government intervention to look into the activities of these persons who want to subvert the law and cause the breach of the peace in the port environment.”
The letter was copied the Coordinating Minister of the Economic/Minister of Finance, Minister of Transport, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NCS), and the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
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