Report Corrupt Officers To Me, Ali Urges ANLCA, NAGAFF

The Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) has appealed to the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) for their cooperation in tackling corruption in the service and to nip smuggling in the bud.Ali stated this on Monday when he paid a working visit to the national secretariats of ANLCA in Festac town area of Lagos and the NAGAFF secretariat in Apapa.The Customs boss lauded the recent collaboration between both associations, but begged them to shelve the 21 days strike notice issued last week to the Federal government over extortion of their members at the port.He assured that the Customs is working on addressing the challenges raised by the agents even as he assured that the decisions would be appreciated by President Muhammad Buhari.Ali said that customs is creating a tripartite committee involving NAGAFF, ANLCA and the customs to enable interaction on a regular basis He urged the agents to be his "eyes and ears" in the industry, and to report any officer who demand bribe from them in the course of clearing their cargoes Appealing to the agents, he said "I agree with you that some of us are corrupt, but we are also asking you to tell us those corrupt ones so that we can take appropriate actions to get them out of the system and prosecute them""I want to call on you, if you have any officer who by any chance happens to move towards collecting money from you, please let us know, if we don't expose these people, there is no way we can fight the corruption"At the NAGAFF headquarters, Ali assured that the customs would expend large portion of its budget in 2017 on training of officers and freight forwarders. He said there was need for officers to be up to date with provisions of the WCO.He also assured that the much expected single window clearance system would come on stream in the second quarter of year 2017, while assuring that new scanners would soon be fitted at the ports.On the ease of doing business at the port, he said government was working on reducing the number of checks at the port to create room for fast cargo clearance."Very soon too, we would have scanners at the borders, airports and seaports. On enabling legislation, you are aware that our laws are with the National Assembly, before the end of the year we would have a new customs and exercise law""There cannot be clearing agents without customs and vice vasa, my coming here is to further strengthen the relationship between us, we are here to assure you that we are partners in progress""There is no doubt that we still have bad eggs amongst us, as a result of these bad eggs, we are all being tagged as corrupt, some of us have eschewed the need for change, we still believe that business must continue as usual" he said.Speaking earlier, National President of ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu read the report of the association's recent NEC meeting on the challenges militating against cargo clearance at the port.On his part, Acting President of NAGAFF; Mr. Increase Uche advised the customs boss to set up a joint committee involving officials of Customs and NAGAFF on a continuously basis in order to continuously rub minds.Increase also demanded the resuscitation of the former customs Consultative committee for effective turnaround of the customs."We are not unmindful of the recent controversy over the wearing of uniforms, we made our position known then and we are still standing by it, it is a mere distraction allegedly meant to derail you from your focus of reforming restructuring and enhancing revenue functions of the service" he saidOn his part, NAGAFF founder, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam harped on the need for Ali to embark on mass enlightenment of maritime stakeholders. He told the customs boss to address the stopping of duly cleared consignment on the expressway by the FOU."We are ready to collaborate with you, but we are not really comfortable with the fact that most of our documents do not get to you. On the issue of corruption, an officer has no business collaborating with the agent to circumvent government which he swore to protect its revenue" he said