Compliance Team is A Tool For Trade Facilitation----Aniebonam

Founder of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF);  Dr. Boniface Aniebonam has said the 100 percent compliance team  that was recently inaugurated by the association  is a tool for trade facilitation.

Addressing journalist on Tuesday in his office, Dr Aniebonam said just like the scanners and the Pre Arrival Assessment Report ((PAAR) are meant to facilitate trade, the compliance team was also set up to help facilitate trade and add value to the ongoing reforms of the government to facilitate trade in the country.

The NAGAFF founder maintained that freight forwarders have the mandate to educate their importers and exporters on compliance.

He explained that a freight forwarder has the primary responsibility to protect the investment of his or her clients.

Meanwhile 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.

Speaking with journalists in Lagos, he said  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 from today (Wednesday), embark on a campaign tour of all Customs commands and terminals in the Western and Eastern ports to sensitise 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 czar 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 reduction in seizures and Debit Note (DN) raised for 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.

Although, 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.