The National Coordinator of the 100 percent compliance team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, has vowed that his team shall identify and expose all corrupt elements within the freight forwarders and government agencies at the ports.
The anti-corruption crusader, while speaking with journalists in Lagos, declared that all perpetrators of illicit activities at the ports will be fished out and handed over to the appropriate authorities.
Tanko disclosed that the team shall embark on a campaign tour of all Customs commands and terminals in the Western and Eastern ports to sensitize 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, the anti-corruption zcar in the freight forwarding industry, 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 as his team is 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 percent.
He also disclosed that the increase in compliance level has led to reduced in seizures and Debit Note (DN) raised on cleared cargoes by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
His words, “Before now, we have 20 percent compliance level among importers but now we have about 40 to 50 percent compliance but we are expecting to get to 80 percent before the end of the year.”
He continued, “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.”
“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, the vice president of NAGAFF, Western Zone also supported 100 percent cargo examination embarked upon by the Customs Service.
He said 100 percent examination will protect importers and clearing agents against extortion by security agencies.
Though, he rued 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 percent 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.”
Tanko further disclosed that the team shall hold government agencies accountable for any infraction in the clearing process while the interests of compliant freight forwarders shall be protected.
“In as much as we are ready to assist government agencies to achieve their mandates, we shall not however condone any act of extortion, harassment and intimidation against our members, especially those who are compliant with the extant laws”.
He however said the team is not out to witch hunt anybody but to ensure all players in the cargo documentation and delivery process play by the rules.
He finally advised the freight forwarders to ensure they are honest in their declarations and desist from using their companies to import cargo on behalf of their principals.
“This will allow them to have peace of mind and avoid been hypertensive” he concluded.