There are strong indications that the 22 customs duty collecting banks may soon be sacked by the Nigeria Customs Service following insider complaints from the management of the Service to the task force on Customs reforms.
The task force which was inaugurated recently by the minister of finance, Monsur Mukhtar was given wide powers to reform the customs and reposition it in line with global best practices.
Shipping Position Weekly confirmed last week that the task force which is headed by a former Customs boss and currently the deputy national chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Haliru Bello Mohammed has been inundated with complaints b y the Customs over alleged atrocities of the 22 banks.
A very senior officer hinted last week that the task force may recommend that the Customs take back its responsibility of directly collecting the duty from the banks.
The development coincided with a fence mending meeting which the group had on Friday with stakeholders in the maritime industry including freight forwarders, service providers, the banks and others.
While the banks were accused of late remittance of monies collected, the three service providers were also accused of not justifying the revenue which they are paid annually.
The meeting which was presided over by the task force chairman came on the heels of the apprehension which was earlier expressed by some stakeholders about the assignment and the composition of the members.
The task force had throughout last week visited customs formation in Lagos, Seme border, Idiroko border where it asked questions bordering on the performances of destination inspection service providers, availability of adequate working equipment for personnel of the service and other sundry issues.
But no sooner had the committee arrived Lagos than licensed customs agents and others started frowning at the composition and modus operandi of the task force, accusing it of being chaperoned by senior customs officers of questionable integrity.
They also accused government of composition of a task force which comprise of retired customs bosses alone. According to them, to be able to do a thorough job, the task force must be enlarged to include other groups which have things to do with customs.
One of the freight forwarding groups had written shortly after the task force arrived Lagos ports that :“To reposition requires NAGAFF, ANLCA, Council and Freight Forwarders Council’s input as a necessity and for the success of the Presidential Task Force operationally, professionalism and discipline among others are the road map to success in your endeavour, we will encourage your committee to also visit the named groups, we have gone back to NAGAFF Headquarters because we could not withstand some of the faces of very corrupt persons within the entourage”..
“How can persons that allocate and sell trade goods as auction at N300,000 for a 40ft container be escorting you for fact- finding? What will they tell you or show you in the instance? Do balance your findings for the success of your committee at your on time”, NAGAFF had stated in press release.
But our correspondent confirmed that even though the task force had the plans to meet with stakeholders, the undercurrent which trailed its visit necessitated the parley.
ANLCA Board of Trustee Is An Illegality: Shittu 3
As the crises in the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA deepens, a frontline member of the association has described the long tenure of the association’s board of trustees (BOT) led by chief Henry Njoku has an aberration that is being tolerated for too long.
Shittu was speaking following rising opposition against the BOT chairman who is being accused of prolonging his stay in office. According to him, it is wrong for the body to conduct elections into the association’s chapters all over the country and to insist that elections into the national executive council would not be conducted until all the chapters have elected executives.
He however alleged that it had been difficult to conduct elections into many of the chapters because the process has been compromised by those whose responsibility it is to see the process through.
The ANLCA chieftain who is also a member of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria and who is also the immediate past chairman of the electoral committee of ANLCA shared his experiences with Shipping Position Weekly in this way: During my tenure, we transparently displayed voters list; we gave room for people to object; we gave room for owners of license to come forward and say this is not my representative, this is my representative. We have records. We made sure that we invited security agencies to be part of our screening”.
He also accused Yoruba leaders in the association u der the aegis of Oodua Maritime Forum of greed and exploiting those who genuinely want to serve ANLCA by contesting for elective posts. According to him, rather than encouraging the aspirants, they would allegedly rather collect money form them with assurances of victory.
“If you call Oodua maritime now and say to them: look there is need for us to empower some of our people who have licenses and who are even registered members to go and contest elections, but they will need money for logistics, they need to go round, they need to print posters and also campaign, let us contribute N10, 000 each, how many of the so called leaders will bring the money, they won’t. But what they do instead is that – you are a Yoruba man, you want to stand for election, rather than help you to win that election, they expect you to bring money to them before they will give you the go ahead”, he allege further.
(Please go to pages 6 and 7 for detailed interview)