NAGAFF tasks freight forwarders on integrity in declaration, vows to expose corrupt officers

The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, has warned practitioners against false declaration while clearing goods for clients.

It also restated that the customs leadership has failed in addressing the issue of corruption involving officers at the ports and border stations.
Chairman, Anti- Corruption Unit, NAGAFF, Chief Increase Uche, in a statement, noted that the advice had become necessary because 75 per cent of information uploaded for the purposes of issuance of PAAR were false.
Uche warned that NAGAFF would not want to intervene in any situation where a member contravenes the law and wants assistance.
He advised members to do the right thing in order not to suffer any punishment from the Customs.
The statement reads in part that: “In the instance wherein well over 75 per cent of information uploaded for the purposes of issuance of PAAR is false, those who are concerned are hereby advised and their attention called to the provisions of the Customs laws.
“NAGAFF henceforth may not wish to intervene in such matters before the Customs in times of arrest for wrong description of import. It is professionally wrong to obtain a PAAR with items which are not to be found in the containers during Customs examination.
“Wherein a freight forwarder still has the opportunity to make honest declaration in the single entry declaration form for Customs purposes, it is still very important that the right thing should be done from the beginning by informing the PAAR ruling centre the exact content of the container.
“It may be true that the Customs have decided to punish offenders of non disclosure of items to the extent that if what is entered in the PAAR is not found in the containers such container may be seized or the PAAR may be deemed not to be issued for that particular container.
“We therefore wish to warn all NAGAFF members to imbibe the principles of best practices in carrying out their statutory duties. A freight forwarder must be a person of honour and integrity at all times.
“The way forward is to be law abiding and we must always conduct ourselves in the best manner with due respect to rule of law and regulations guiding international business and Customs facilitation in Nigeria.”
The association also warned that it would report any agent of the government trying to extort money from practitioners while clearing their goods.
Uche expressed concern that the Comptroller General of Customs , Retired Col. Hammed Ali, was yet to address the issue of corruption against officers in the ports and border stations.
The statement said, “However we owe it a duty and responsibility to report any agent of the Government who tries to use his office to intimidate and extort money from freight agents.
“There are allegations that a particular officer at Ports and Cargo has been in the habit of extorting money from agents even when the Customs examiners have properly released the cargo.
“We are keeping an eye in that officer and we shall make further statements in that regard. “It is most unfortunate and regrettable that the CGC, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali, (Rtd) is yet to address issues of this nature with regard to corruption in the Customs ports and approved border stations.”

The association urged the Customs boss to adopt measures that will continue to promote and encourage trade than anti-trade actions, adding that, “ it is on record that PAAR is advisory, the relevance of Sections 27, 28 and 29 shall continue to be utilized in favour of Customs clearance in the absence of adequate documents.”