By Eromosele Abiodun
The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has threatened to expose erring government officials aiding corrupt practices at the ports.
The group said adherence to the directive of the federal government on ease of doing business and transparency at Nigerian ports would help freight forwarders pay the right duty accrued to government.
The National Coordinator of the 100 per cent compliance team of NAGAFF, Ibrahim Tanko, who stated this in a chat with newsmen in Lagos, said his team would identify and expose all corrupt elements within the freight forwarders and government agencies at the ports.
He declared that all perpetrators of illicit activities at the ports would be fished out and handed over to the appropriate authorities.
Tanko disclosed that his team has embarked on a campaign tour of all customs commands and terminals in the Western and Eastern ports to sensitise freight forwarders on the need to be compliant in order to avoid been subjects of endless extortion and harassment by the officials of government agencies.
While rolling out the 10-point agenda of the team, he accused some customs officers of turning themselves into clearing agents.
He also claimed some of the officials use their proxies (camp boys) to extort freight forwarders.
Tanko warned them to desist from these illicit acts, saying his team was ready to report them to the appropriate authorities.
He, however, claimed that compliance level among importers and clearing agents operating at the nation’s seaports have risen to 60 per cent.
He also disclosed that the increase in compliance level has led to reduction in seizures and Debit Note (DN) raised on cleared cargoes by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
“Before now, we have 20 per cent compliance level among importers but now we have about 40 to 50 per cent compliance but we are expecting to get to 80 per cent before the end of the year.
“Due to the compliance level, Customs record on seizures and raising of DN on cargoes have reduced drastically.
“The customs revenue is also increasing and the risk of containers being detained by Customs, Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), or port police is very low, he,” he said.
He added: “We want to assist customs to achieve revenue because of the complaints against clearing agents and that was why we campaigned to importers on honest declaration. If we do 100 percent cargo evacuation, it will be easy to make genuine declaration and pay exact duty to the coffers of the federal government coffers.”
Tanko, who is the Vice President of NAGAFF, Western Zone, also supported 100 per cent cargo examination embarked upon by the Customs Service.
He said 100 per cent examination will protect importers and clearing agents against extortion by security agencies.
Though he rued the absence of scanners at the seaports, he said clearing agents and importers will have to endure the pains of absence of the scanning machines at the seaports.
“We have always been told that scanning machines are coming to the seaports but, since they are yet to arrive, physical examination is the other way out.”
“Also, this is a difficult time even though, the service can’t do 100 containers in a day and no one would want to go for 100 percent physical examination but we don’t have option now.”
“If I do 100 per cent examination, I won’t be afraid of Customs and that will protect our members. We want all containers to be 100 percent examined because if security agencies arrest any container that is done on 100 percent examination. We won’t be intimidated, “he added.