By Eromosele AbiodunÂ
Customs agents in the country, under the aegis of the National Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANCLA ) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) are at each otherâ€™s throats over the latterâ€™s alleged none adherence to the executive order on Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria and unabated extortion.
To this end, the Controller General of the NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) has been enjoined to take urgent steps to stem the tide in view of its dire implications on the maritime sector and the economy as a whole.
Acting National President of ANCLA, Dr. Kayode Farinto, said in a statement obtained by THISDAY at the weekend that the illegal activities of the NCS and maritime police are hampering activities in the maritime sector and called on the federal government to either declare a state of emergency in the maritime sector or suspend the Ease of Doing Business policy.
He said that the state of emergency has become necessary “in view of recent developments at the sea portsÂ and land borders, vis-a -vis dilapidated infrastructure at the ports, such as roads, non – existence of multimodal transport and the multiple check points by the NCS, heightened extortion by the Maritime Police, and the non compliance with Executive order.”
Speaking on behalf of ANCLA members, Farinto also listed other offences to include â€œfailure of NCS to conform to the implementation of ease of doing business, double examination on containers, extortion of ANCLA members,Â Customs release and arrest and rearrest of containers and above all, activities of FOU to query consignment base on low cargo and low value.”
He noted that with the inconsistency of FG policy and non – adherence to the ease of doing business order, it would be very difficult for Nigeria as a country to get it right.
Farinto declared: “The Controller General of the NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) is not bigger than Nigeria, they cannot continue to flout the executive order and no actions is yet to be taken;Â the Inspector General of Police should come to the port and see how the maritime police have left there statutory functions and now obtain manifest from shipping companies and stopping containers and are calling agents for settlement in which N150,000 is being paid per container.
“GovernmentÂ agencies at the ports appear to be bigger than the federal government they are working for and alsoÂ flouting orders given by Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) with impunity and no sanction is meted to them. Are they now bigger than the country?
“We cannot continue to pretend, there is total systems collapse in the maritime industry. Hence the FG should stop deceiving Nigerians and stop shouting about ease of doing business because it has been abused.”