NAGAFF protests exclusion of freight forwarders from IDPs Committees

The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has protested the non-inclusion of all agents associations in the committees that will distribute seized goods to the camps of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North.

 Registering its grievance in a letter to the Comptroller-General of Customs, NAGAFF’s Legal Adviser, Mr Fred Akokhia said it was wrong to have excluded the associations in the committee, describing the decision as clearly against the order of the President.

Describing the measure as a possible oversight, Akokhia pointed out that apart from the associations of freight forwarders, the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders (CRFFN) was also not included in the committee.
Noting that the associations of agents and CRFFN were strategic allies, Akokhia said their non-inclusion in the committee may have been as a result of wrong advice, particularly on the relevance
or otherwise of CRFFN as a regulator of the freight forwarding practitioners.

The association also in the letter told the Comptroller General that corruption involving officers has remained higher and higher in the ports since the assumption of the CG, Col Hammed Ali (rtd).

Part of the letter reads: “We regret to observe that CRFFN, NAGAFF and ANLCA are not included in the constituted IDP’s committee to give effect to the President’s order on seized goods. It may be an oversight on the part of your administration over time to exclude the most strategic allies to your administration. 

“It is on record that within the period under review, your visitation to stakeholders may have tactically excluded CRFFN and any of the two major freight associations like, NAGAFF and ANLCA as strategic partners to Customs responsibilities. 

“It is our opinion that Nigeria Customs Service as the lead agency of the Government in our entry points may not necessary bother itself unduly visiting other Agencies that needed the cooperation
of the Customs to actualize their statutory roles.

“These agencies and parasatals shall include but not limited to SON, NAFDAC, NSC, NIMASA, NPA etc. These agencies needed your cooperation to achieve their objectives. It appears to us that you may have been wrongly advised about the relevance or otherwise of CRFFN as a regulator of the Freight Forwarding Practitioners. 

“There is no doubt that CEMA does not recognize or deal with associations but rather corporate bodies licensed by Customs, individuals, firms, importers, exporters and excise traders. On the contrary, CRFFN as an agency of the Government recognizes and deals with Associations, individuals and corporate bodies registered and accredited as freight forwarders.

“CGC Sir, take note that the constitution of Nigeria is superior to any other law in Nigeria. Under the relevant sections of the Nigerian Constitution, the registered and incorporated bodies under CEMA/CRFFN regulations have come under the authority of the constitution to form an association. 

“It is our view and advise that the CGC should realize and recorgnise the strategic importance of the CRFFN as an agency of the Government to regulate and control freight forwarders in Nigeria. And as such, you may wish to include CRFFN, NAGAFF and ANLCA in your programme of action and activities in the Customs ports and approved gateways and more importantly in the constitution of the IDP’s communities on seized goods. 

“We give this very important advise in good faith because we want you to succeed in actualizing your mandate as given to you by Mr. President at the Nigeria Customs Service. May we again remind and inform you that the corruption rate in Customs matters is seemingly on the increase since your assumption of duty”

It would be recalled that President Muhammudu Buhari recently ordered the Customs Service to send seized goods in various government warehouses in the country to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Following this, the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hammed Ali (RTD) decided to constitute a national committee that would coordinate the movement of the of seized goods.

Customs Public Relations Officer, Mr Wale Adeniyi, had explained that the goods were those to be forfeited to the federal government.

Some of the items were identified as rice, vegetable oil, spaghetti and essential items like soap, used clothing materials, mosquito nets, beddings and others.

The national committee members include Customs Service, Army, Air Force, Police, Immigration Service and the EFCC. 

The statement also said that NGOs, members of the civil societies and the media would be included.