Customs agents in the country have declared war on the Federal Ministry of Transportation over the proposed collection of Practitioners Operating Fees (POF) at the nationâ€™s seaports, airports and border stations by the ministry.
In a petition to the acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo, the umbrella body of customs agents in the country, the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), said the collection is in contravention of the statutes that established the Council of Regulation of Freight Forwarding, the High Court ruling as well as the letter from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation on the dissolved Council since November 2012. The action, the body noted, negates the concept of the Ease of Doing Business.
The National President of NCMDLCA, Mr. Lucky Amiwero, who signed the petition, denied the existence of POF in the council of regulation of freight forwarding in Nigeria Act.
â€œThe Financial Provision as contained in Part II section 6 specifically states: â€œThe Council shall establish and maintain a fund for the purpose of this Act, the management and council of which shall be in the hands of the Council. By the provision of section 6-(1) the proposed collection contravenes the Act, that authorised the management and control of such fund in the hand of the Council , which has been dissolved since 2012 based on the Federal High Court ruling and the letter from the office of the Secretary of the Federal Government of Nigeria, which outlaws the Register/ Staff to perform the function of the dissolved council.
â€œThe specific payment by freight forwarders as provided in Section 6-(2) (a), is the annual practicing fees payable by every freight forwarder determined by the Council, which contravenes the proposed collection and negates the provision of the Act by extending such collection to the seaports, airports, border stations. In line with the provision of Section 30, the fees for collection by Council of Regulation of Freight Forwarder, is clearly specified in Section 30, states, â€œfees â€œinclude annual subscriptions. As contained in section 30 of CRFFN Act, the freight forwarder function is to arrange the carriage or movement of goods along international boundaries and not the seaports, air ports, but along international boundaries as specify in the Act.â€
He explained that the Secretary to the Government of the Federationâ€™s letter addressed the statutory provision of the expired/dissolved council, â€œwhich function cannot be exercised by the Registrar /Staff who are not elected as member of the Council under section 2-(1) a-g (2) 7(3),which cannot manage and control the fund without a council.â€
Amiwero said: â€œThe power of the minster as contained in Section 5-(1) specifically states, the minster may give to the Council direction of general character, which limits the function of the minister to only when the Council is in place. Section 5-(2) clearly states, prior to given a direction under Section (1) of this section, the minster shall serve a copy of the propose direction on the Council and afford the council opportunity of making representative to him.
â€œAs provided in section 5-(1) 2 &7, the minister cannot interfere in the affairs of the Council without a properly constituted council elected under the provision of section 2. The council ceases to exist since November 2012 that limits the minister to issue any directive concerning an expired council, which has been decided by the high court and the letter from the secretary to federal government that house the decision making body of federal government of Nigeria
â€œWe as reputable organisation, which has served in almost 167 Federal Government Committee as attached, which include: Presidential Task Force on the Reform of Nigerian Customs (PTFRCS), Presidential Committee on Port problems, Presidential Committee on 48 hours clearance, wish to implore the federal government to urgently intervene and stop the illegal collection that is expected to be forced on the licensed Customs agents to pay the illegal fees imposed by CRFFN, which is in contravention of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Federal High Court Ruling, and negation of Act.â€