By Innocent Orok
The Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents ( ANLCA) on Tuesday held it’s last National Executive Council ( NEC) meeting to delibrate on myriads of issues affecting them in the maritime industry in recent times. The ANLCA NEC meeting which was chaired by the National President of the association, Iju Tony Nwabunike, has in attendance, NECOM members, Board of Trustees members, Chapter Executives and other NEC members of the association.
In his welcome address the ANLCA President said ” I welcome everyone to the last NEC meeting in the year 2021 and hope the year has been a fruitful one. The Association despite bickering has continued to move forward. You recall that at the last NEC meeting, we reported many issues militating against Cargo Clearance in our ports, which this NECOM has been facing frontally. For us here, we have continued to use this crises to the advantage of our association even though, there are people that believe making money out of ANLCA crises should be a continuum, however, prosterity will judge everyone on the role they played’.
On the letter of Invitation by the House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise, on the allegations of ANLCA members obstructing 100% examination of containers levelled against them by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nwabunike said the association’s NECOM led by himself went to the National Assembly to trash the issue.
“The Management of NCS came on the second time, where we faced ourselves and we exposed how Customs are APPROBATING and REPROBATING at the same time, which negates international best practices. We have succeeded in convincing the House Committee on Customs to force Nigeria Customs Service to discuss with our NECOM on all issues particularly the arbitrary jack up of value of PAAR and that in line with WCO 2013 recommendations that all Customs Organization must form synergies with Brokers Association by forming Customs Consultative Council (CCC).
“We await them to invite us on this in order to move the Industry forward. Members of the NEC, the recent event where the Customs unilaterally jack up value of 40Ft Container to N3,000,000 has vindicated us and we are all living witnesses to the aftermath of this.
“There is urgent need for the members of the NECOM to seek audience with the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Finance before things get out of hand. The level of importation has dropped drastically by about 50% lately as a result of this high handedness by the present management of NCS.
NEC should immediately call for the reorganization of the Nigeria Customs Management team to revamp the ailing economy of our nation or better still, we advise the Federal Government to shop for a vast, trained seasoned officer to lead the Service out of the present quagmire.
“The 2021 World Bank logistics Performance Index is a pointer to the fact that this present management team of Customs lack ideas , the professional and technical knowledge to move our economy forward. Every developing nation like ours has continued to utilize the COVID-19 backlash positively to move their economy forward.
We also insisted that, the management should give us the Standard Operating Procedure that will be used on implementation and operations of the newly acquired Scanners machine before it is bastardized. We noticed the one release about few hours ago and our Policy and Strategic committee is hereby mandated to study it and report back to the NECOM” the ANLCA President posited.
On the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Nwabunike said
“The National Committee on policy matters has integrated Barrister Funmi to add value and contribute to the National Committee on African Continental Free Trade Area and we have nominated some persons, Dr. Farinto Kayode the National Vice President and Professor Joshua A., the Eastern Zonal Secretary to represent us at the Federal Government level. We urge our members that have contributions/memorandum on how we can harness this AfCFTA positively to either work with NECOM or summit their memorandum to them. It is important to harness this opportunity translate it to money making for Nigerian Customs Brokers. We can also utilize this opportunity to extend our frontiers”
On the move by Terminal Operators to increase storage charges/ rents , he said
“At the meeting, we were able to gather that, there has not been any increase in the last five years despite the fluctuation of the Naira and above all, it will interest you to know that, the Federal Government has continued to collect their Cargoes throughput (THP) in Dollars. Meanwhile Government refuses to assist them with official rate. The various concessionaires often sourced for their Dollars at the open market/Black Market to pay to the Federal Government.”
Speaking on the controversial Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Nwabunike has this to say ” The issue of CRFFN Governing Council has become controversial in the maritime Industry however; the NECOM is in alliance with other Freight Forwarding Associations to form Freight Forwarding Consultative Forum (FFCF) in line with the Regulation 2010. However, the election has polarized us more, because some renegade and expelled members of various Associations believe that the election into the Council should be for all comers i.e. not amongst the only five registered Freight Forwarding Associations.so also, permit me to remind us, professional colleagues on the need to get certification. For you to be able to practice in the industry, this is compulsory and we congratulate our few esteem members that graduated over the weekend so also we encourage other members of the association to ensure that, you are certificated to practice as registered Freight Forwarders in Nigeria.”
The ANLCA President however seeks the endorsement of NEC for express permission to endorsed their collaboration with other Freight Forwarding Associations like NAGAFF, NAFFAC, ARFFN and CMDLCA .
Speaking on the challenges faced by their members, he said “We have numerous challenges as Licensed Customs Brokers, however recent event has vindicated that some Brokers may also be part of our problem hence, we want NEC to declare that members of this Association should make genuine declaration, in order that we can be seen as patriotic citizens of Nigeria.
” NCS management team has shown with all her policies not to be a professional institution hence the ailing economy will continue to be in comatose, this is courtesy of it’s intention to only generate revenue, arm twist Nigeria importers by slamming them with frivolous Demand Notices and arbitrary jack up of Pre-Arrival, Assessment Reports (PAAR) indiscriminately which negates all international and National Regulations like GAAT, Article Vii and Valuation Act 20 of 2003, respectively.”
Nwabunike however thanked the genuine members of ANLCA, who despite the various campaign of calumny against himself and the entire NECOM members, still stand solidly behind them and he prayed for God to bless you all.