ANLCA Protests Collection Of POF, Sues Terminal Operators, NAGAFF Directs Members To Pay

 After what appeared like unpreparedness to actualise the Ministerial order on collection of Practitioners Operations Fees (POF), the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) attempted on Monday to flag-off the process.Shipping Position Daily confirmed that terminal operators have already been directed to add the fees to what the freight forwarder would pay and include it in the Debit Note.The development however elicited protests and fresh litigation from the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) whose members protested at the offices of some terminal operators in Lagos yesterday.The ANLCA joined terminal operators as defendants in a suit it had filed in 2015 against the collection of POF by the CRFFN.National Publicity Secretary of ANLCA, Dr. Kayode Farinto confirmed this to Shipping Position Daily exclusively when the association staged a peaceful protest at major seaport terminals at Apapa port and Tin Can Island Port.Our correspondent who witnessed the protest reported that ANLCA members trooped out in their numbers at both Tin Can and Apapa ports, carrying placards with different inscriptions among which were: CRFFN is a failure, POF is not backed by the law, POF is going into Amaechi’s pocket, we will never pay POF, Amaechi is a tyrant, POF is not real, Amaechi’s POF is not real among others.Giving reasons the terminal operators were joined in the suit, Farinto said that regardless of the existing court case, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has issued a directive to terminal operators to begin collection of POF as from 1st of August."Last week we got it from the grape vine that the Minister of Transportation has given the approval that terminal operators should now collect the POF, and this issue has been very contentious because we are in court, so what we had to do was go to court and join the terminal operators in the suit and restraining them from going ahead to collect the POF""What you see this morning is peaceful demonstration from all our members, we are not picketing anybody or stopping them from doing their work, we are just reminding them that once a case is in court, the two parties are expected to maintain status quo, and we have given STOAN a copy of that summon", he said.He reiterated that the first suit does not include the terminal operators, but that since the CRFFN has come in from another angle by bringing in terminal operators to collect POF on their behalf, this was why ANLCA included terminal operators to restrain them."I am happy that the summon was received by their legal practitioners and he knows the implication. Going ahead to collect the money is contempt of court and it is tantamount to you slapping the court in the face. This means that we are no more in a civilised country and the government does not respect rule of law"Secretary of Seaports Terminal Operators of Nigeria (STOAN); Barrister Boye Uzamot received a copy of the court summon for his association while the General Manager Western Ports of NPA, Ach. Abiodun Gbadamosi received a copy for NPA.While receiving the summon from the Apapa chapter chairman of ANLCA, Olumide Fakanlu, Gbadamosi assured the ANLCA members that he was going to pass it to the Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman.He however charged them to also serve the NPA Headquarters a copy of the summon through ANLCA National Secretariat since it’s a national issue.But, ANLCA’s rival association; the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) threw its weight behind the CRFFN, even as it urged its members to pay the POF.Confirming plans to commence collection, the NAGAFF in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Stanley Ezenga advised its members who are in the dark about how to go about making the payments to approach any of the association’s offices.“You are expected to present your original import bill of lading and/or certified copy for proper assessment.  The declarant in this regard shall be based on your RFF number given to you by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria as a registered freight forwarder.  All payments are made to the TSA account of the Federal Government of Nigeria”.It also distanced its members from the ANLCA protests, even as it cautioned that none of its members should be dragged into the protest.“All freight forwarders are hereby advised not to be dragged by anybody or organization against the payment of POF as instructed by the Federal Government of Nigeria.  While appreciating the rights of Nigerians to protest, the need to be law abiding cannot be overemphasized.  Any person or group is at liberty to approach the court for a restraining order to stop collection of POF by the Government if one is in disagreement.”