Despite official denials, clearing agents last week insisted that indeed Customs officers allegedly collect money before containers are released to off-dock bonded terminal
Even though officials of some freight forwarding associations were cautious to confirm that monies change hands before cargoes are allowed to be transferred from the ports to off-dock terminals, several clearing agents have insisted that officers of the Customs service collect between N90,000 and N150,000.
Further investigation by Shipping Position Daily revealed that before a transire is cleared, it passes through about four tables after which an importer can now be allowed to move his consignment to a bonded terminal.
A transire is a customs document on which the cargo loaded on to a ship is listed, and issued to prove that the goods listed on it have come from a home port rather than from overseas. It legitimizes that the cargo in question is not an import, but in transit between two locations.
According to Shipping Position Daily findings, after the Customs Area Controller must have signed, he then minutes to the APM who then minutes to the Technical Supervisor (TS), who then minutes to Deputy Controller Enforcement, before the consignment is cleared to be transferred to a bonded terminal.
The National Secretary, National Council for Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA); Mazi Festus Ukwu, told our correspondent that the allegation of bribery, is a true picture of what is happening within the Customs service. He however did not mention a specific amount collected for transire by the service.
Similarly, a clearing agent who identified himself as Timothy Irawo, stated that it cost between N90,000 to N120,000 to move a consignment to a bonded terminal, stating that apart from the Customs Area Controller (CAC) ‘fees’, it costs N20,000 to N25,000 to get the transire signed and approved after the CAC must have signed.
“If you want to get your transire signed and approved, at least it will cost you between N20,000 to N25,000 on each table, some of the officers are the ones who come to collect the money either on behalf of the CAC or for their own pocket, but the truth is that this money is paid”
“Clearing agents who don’t pay are probably those that are close to the CAC or top official of the associations, but for others, we pay and this is apart from the N2000 we pay every day at the gate” he said.
Another clearing agent who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity stated that it cost N130, 000 to move his consignment to a bonded terminal last time, while alleging that the CACs are in the known of this transactions.
Speaking also, the Chairman Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Importers Exporters Coalition (SNFFIEC) Chief Osita Chukwu said he was not in the know of such practices, but added that the allegations may not be far from truth considering the level of corruption going on in the Customs service.
“The allegation may not be far from truth, considering the level of corruption in the service, but none of them have ever asked me to pay, they know I will never agree to such, as an activist association, our job is to protect freight forwarders and importers from this kind of things”, he said.
In his reaction, the Public Relations Officer of Tin Can Customs Command; Uche Ejieseme maintained that nothing of such is going on in the command, while calling on those alleging to mention names of officers involved in the allegations.
“For this kind of weighting allegation, we expect that he who alleges must prove, in law, once you allege you must prove, the person alleging should try to expatiate and narrow it down to the particular persons involved”
“We have zero tolerance for corruption and the Controller here is somebody who has a name to protect; who have done so much for the service and who in my opinion may not want to condescend so low to doing such, he has the track record and I am very sure if those alleging can mention names, we will make our findings to ascertain the allegation”, he said.