CRFFN Mobilises Freight Forwarding Associations Against Customs‎ Over CEMA 

Even though the Nigeria Customs Service continues to engage stakeholders on the proposed review of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), fresh indications emerged last week that the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) may be planning a big confrontation with the Customs at the public hearing which holds soon at the National Assembly in Abuja.The Council has also reportedly rallied all freight forwarding associations to study the CEMA critically and note areas that would be used to counter the position of the Nigeria Customs Service on some vexatious portions of the Bill.President of one of the associations who pleaded anonymity told Shipping Position Daily at the recent stakeholders’ engagement in Lagos that the Registrar of the CRFFN, Sir Mike Jukwe had instructed the five associations to hold a meeting and come up with a position.The Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has reportedly refused to meet with the others, rather it has chosen to stand alone.The source confirmed that it was deliberate that NAGAFF, NAFFAC, National Council and AREFFN did not present any position at the public hearing in Lagos. Shipping Position Daily recalls that at the meeting, the associations unanimously told the Customs Comptroller General, Hamid Ali that they were still studying the CEMA review document.‎The source said that one of the areas the agents are ready to fight customs is on indemnity of clearing agents. He noted that in the CEMA amendment, Customs plans to hold an agent fully responsible for any infractions‎ in cargo clearance."All the four associations had a meeting, we sat down to review the CEMA, the CRFFN Registrar asked us to come together and form a committee, two people from each association to meet, it is only ANLCA that failed to show up""We sat down and came up with our own position, but we decided not to say anything yet""ANLCA did not hold the meeting with us, they said they want to do their thing separately, they are very happy today because customs is recognising them”, he told our correspondent.Giving details of the caucus meeting, he told Shipping Position Daily that: "‎Apart from the fact that we all agreed that Ali should not be Chairman Governing Board of customs, the CEMA has a portion that you can hold an agent responsible for any short-payment made‎ by his client for one year ,after this you look for the importer""But in this amendment they have changed it and now saying that agents would be fully responsible for all infractions committed""Agents do not import goods, he is only acting for his importer and he has delivered the goods which you as Customs have signed and allowed the cargo to leave""But now, the PCA is coming, and they don't even want to look for the importer, they want to hold the agent responsible""We are not comfortable with this area, and it is one aspect we are going to fight, there are lots of other aspects which we would not mention yet""If Hamid Ali is not going to recognise us, the four associations will team up against him and fight him, we are not fighting physically, but we would look at all the policies he wants to implement and we will pick holes in them‎" he said.