The National President of the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders, Nigeria (AREFFN), Dr Frank Ukor, has accused management of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) of alleged vindictiveness, following the suspension of his company’s Customs agency license.
Ukor told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY that Customs agency license of Destiny Impex Limited was allegedly blocked on March 19, 2013, because, according to him, he had kicked against the proposed auctioning of overtime cargo at the ports.
Ukor said that he wrote a letter, on behalf of AREFFN, to the Senate President, advising against auctioning of overtime containers, because “the move to auction these containers has a political undertone.”
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY sighted a copy of the letter dated March 1, 2013, and titled RE: CONGESTION AT THE PORTS AND REVENUE LOSS TO THE GOVERNMENT. A FAUX PAS: PLEASE SAVE OUR BUSINESSES.
The letter stated inter alia: “We attended the last public hearing of the House of Representative`s joint Committee on Customs, Marine Transport and Finance held on 28th Feb, 2013 at the National Assembly Complex.
At the end of the sitting, it was obvious that that sitting was at the instance of the Nigeria Customs Service, seeking the mandate of the National Assembly to auction Two Thousand One Hundred and Fifteen (2115) overtime containers and over Two Thousand cars said to have been ‘abandoned’ at the ports. Sir, over Seventy Five percent of these containers belong to our Nigerian brothers and sisters. The move to auction these containers has a political under tone. It will be a great revenue loss to the Federal Government if Customs is allowed to auction these containers.”
The document further stated: “Over the years, Customs sold overtime and seized containers to themselves and their cronies at a paltry sum of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N250,000.00) for 1×20’ to government coffers, while pocketing the real value of the consignment in the containers which they had determined earlier.
There are Two Thousand One Hundred and Fifteen (2,115) containers. Sold at this price of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N250,000.00) only, they will realize Five Hundred and Twenty Eight Million, Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira(N528,750,000.00) only. Shipping companies and terminals operators are paid thirty percent of the auction fee, losing the rest of accruable revenue both charges and demurrage/rent. The values of these containers will run into trillions and will end up in the pockets of the Customs and their friends, making the government lose revenue…We therefore want to plead, that these containers should not be auctioned. The owners should be forced to pay fifty (50) percent penalty in addition to the duty payable on the consignment. Government stands to gain tremendously if this approach is adopted.”
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