The fight for the collection of the Practitioners Operating Fees (POF) has taken a new dimension with the one of the contending parties, the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) taking the battle to the Presidency.
The POF has become a bone of contention among stakeholders in the maritime industry with licensed customs agents and other key actors taking different positions on the matter.
Though there is no contention on the need to collect the POF but the argument on which organisation collects the POF and how much percentage has been on the front burner since last year.
The NCMDLCA in a petition to the Presidency accused the Minister of Transportation, Right Hon. Rotimi Amaechi of indulging in illegality for attempting to collect POF despite a court order stopping the collection.
The association also has an axe to grind with the Council for Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (CRFFN) as it pointed out that the Federal High Court had earlier dissolved its Governing Council as at May 24, 2015. It maintained that the court upheld the tenure of the Governing Council which elapsed on November 25, 2012.
According to the petition which was signed by the National President, NCMDLCA, Mr. Lucky Amiwero, the collection of POF contravenes the statues that established the CRFFN. The letter from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation on the dissolved Council since November 2012 is clear. This is a negation of the ease of doing business campaign of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
The association flayed attempts by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to limit entrance to the ports to holders of membership card of the CRFFN.
â€œThe attempt was in contravention of the Customs and Excise Management (CEMA) Act which empowers only licensed customs agents to perform the function of processing documentation relating to import, export and manufacturingâ€, it added.
It noted that the law empowers only licensed customs agents to perform the function of examination and clearance of goods in any port after being licensed by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).