Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr Boniface Aniebonam, on Wednesday advised freight agents against falsifying import documents.
Aniebonam, who gave the advice in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos, warned that such falsification attracts seven years imprisonment.
According to the statement, the need for genuine declaration for customs purposes is essential in safeguarding the business and national economy.
“Without prejudice to Destination Inspection guidelines as to self-declaration and assessment, the truth remains that such declaration must be done in utmost good faith and honesty.
“We must remind all practitioners that falsification of import documents for Customs purposes is an offense, as forgery carries seven years’ imprisonment,” the statement said.
It also pointed out that it was unprofessional for freight agents to allow an importer to use their companies as consignee.
“What happens if the real importer decides to risk importation of goods which fall under absolute prohibition like firearms, cocaine, blank invoice and currency?
“Whereas it is our responsibility to protect members engaged in legitimate businesses in the ports and border stations, we may not be able to fight for and protect any agent who is not compliant with the extant rules and regulations governing cargo clearance out of ports,” the statement said.
It noted with satisfaction that the Nigeria Customs Service had suspended a number of its personnel found to have violated the Customs Excise Management Act (CEMA).
The act deals with issues of concealment, false declaration, wrong descriptions of import, over invoicing, under valuation and under invoicing of imports.
The statement also indicated that the organisation would support the customs service by exposing freight agents and customs officials involved in fraudulent practice at the ports.
“It is to our knowledge that some freight agents do connive with some unscrupulous officers to inject non-existing items into Customs documentation to reduce the appropriate duty payable.
“At the moment, NAGAFF is compiling names of such officers in Abuja Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) Ruling Centre for the attention of the Comptroller-General of Customs.
“NAGAFF is also interested in knowing those freight agents distorting due processes of PAAR regime in order to submit their names for sanction by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
“The use of corporate bodies as licensed agents of the Customs is not helping the ongoing reform and compliance in Customs operations,” Aniebonam said.
He said the aim was to enhance capacity, integrity and professionalism in customs operations.
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