Freight Forwarding Associations To Petition First Bank At EFCC, Seek Demurrage Refund On Trapped Cargoes



By Joshua Yousouph 

Freight forwarding associations operating in the nation’s ports have threatened to write a petition against First Bank over the non-remittance of Customs revenue, a development which has led to hiccups in cargo clearance.

The freight forwarders have also promised to seek for a refund of all demurrage charges paid on trapped cargoes at the ports.

The five accredited freight forwarding associations namely: Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents ( ANLCA), National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders ( NAGAFF), National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents ( NCMDLCA), National Association of Freight Forwarders and Consolidators ( NAFFAC) and Association of Registered Freight Forwarders (AREFFN), held a town hall meeting with the theme ” Way Forward on Challenges Militating against Cargo Clearance” on Monday, to address the challenges affecting their operations in the ports.

Speaking on behalf of the other association’s Presidents, the Acting National President of ANLCA, Dr Kayode Farinto decried the recent decision by the House Committee on Customs to suspend First Bank from Customs Duty Collections without any prior notice to freight forwarders. According to him, this is causing great pain and hardship to freight forwarders who have their consignments trapped at the ports.

Farinto however threatened that the Presidents of the associations will take a stand on petitioning the management of First Bank by engaging the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). He also stressed that First Bank will be mandated to refund all demurrages incurred on trapped paid by importers due to their failure in their service delivery.

Giving details on the agenda of the town hall meeting, the ANLCA acting President informed that the meeting will be in three phases which include: Customs Operations, Shipping Companies operations and the Terminal operations, adding that deliberations will centre on challenges faced by freight forwarders in Customs operations.

Farinto however called on all practitioners to be compliant, even as he stated that they can only apportion blame to the management of Customs if they are fully compliant to all Customs processes.

He urged all freight forwarders to discuss with open minds by pointing out the challenges they are facing with Customs while having robust discussions on the VIN Valuation Policy, PAAR, among others.

In his words: “Today is the day set aside to highlight the challenges we’re facing in the industry. All the associations are fully represented. The presidents of associations also feel what you feel and know the challenges you go through. We have created this avenue for all freight forwarders to come and bare their minds as regards the various challenges that are militating against cargo clearance and chart a way forward”.

“We have the issue of some of the banks who have challenges here and there and before we know it they are yanked from the system without giving us any information. In an ideal situation, this is not too good. We took this issue up with the ACG Tariff and Trade and we found out that it was not Customs that yanked First Bank off the system, but the House Committee on Customs. Even though they have their oversight functions which we are not disputing, in an ideal environment where we have understanding, this information is supposed to be given to Customs coupled with all stakeholders. There should be a prior notice and timeline to inform the public before First Bank is yanked off the system.

“We have put it to the management of Customs and House Committee of Customs. This happened last year with GT Bank. Who is going to pay our demurrage for us? Going forward, we would have a Memorandum of Understanding with Customs and the House Committee that should this arises,