...Accuses Navy of extorting n150,000 from truckers
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) yesterday alleged that the Customs ‘Task Forces’ that were deployed from Customs Headquarters in Abuja to mount checkpoints on port access roads have returned , that is less than one week after they were reported to have been withdrawn.
The association equally accused officers of the Nigerian Navy of demanding as much as N150,000 from every container laden truck seeking entrance into the port. It alleged further that the Navy was contributing to the high cost of cargo transportation at Nigerian ports.
Shipping Position Daily recalls that the Comptroller General of Custom, Col Hameed Ali had deployed several units of ad-hoc task force team as well as a committee into the ports to checkmate containers trapped at the port as a result of disparity in their documentation.
But after much protest from port stakeholders, the Customs boss last week granted reprieve to owners of the trapped containers and asked them to pay 25 percent of the total duties as a penalty.
But speaking at a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NECOM) at the ANLCA National Secretariat in Lagos yesterday, Vice President of the association; Kayode Farinto said the task forces have returned on the highway, harassing and extorting agents.
Farinto said the association also wrote a letter to the Western Naval Commander, NNS Beecroft who promised to visit ANLCA for a fact finding visit yesterday, but later rescheduled.
According to him, a meeting was held with the Customs high command in Abuja where the service agreed to withdraw three out of the five patrol teams stationed very close to the port. He however lamented that some of the officers have returned, intercepting already cleared cargoes.
"We are still going back to Abuja because we noticed that what they promised us is not what they are doing. Out of the five pick up vehicles stationed at Mile 2 and Area B, they told us they have withdrawn three of them, but after 72 hours, we noticed, particularly at night, some of these officers still patrol that place, extort our members and subject consignments that have been released dully to another round of examination"
"Between Area B and Mile 2, we have five pick-ups of Nigeria Customs, what are they doing there, duplication of duties and extortion of our members, it is not that they are doing anything spectacular there, they are not adding value", he added.
Speaking on the alleged extortion by Nigerian Navy Officers, Farinto said ANLCA wrote to the commander of NNS Beecroft that his men are the ones causing the problems because they force the drivers to pay N150,000.
He alleged that the extortion takes place between Mile 2 bridge inwards Tin Can Island Port and the Ijora bridge inwards Apapa port.
"We are piling up these issues because we are likely to have invitation from the Presidency, we have written them that we want to have access to the President, we would go with many documents on what is happening in the port to let them know that the maritime sector is dying and government is looking the other way", he said
Meanwhile the ANLCA National Secretary, Babatunde Mukaila said that the meeting between the Navy and association was postponed by the Navy commander and it would be rescheduled.