Members of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) yesterday held a protest at Tincan Island and Apapa Ports to register their displeasure over the commencement of the collection of the Practitioners’ Operating Fee (POF) by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
Protesters carried placards with different inscriptions, some read: CRFFN is a failure, POF is not backed by the law, POF is going into Amaechi’s pocket, We will never pay POF, Amaechi is a tyrant, POF is not real, Amaechi ‘s POF is not real, Total revolt and ANLCA goes against POF.
The protest which began from the ANLCA Secretariat at the National took them to Tin-Can Island Ports Command of the Nigeria Customs Service as well as all the terminals at Tin-Can Island ports and terminated at the ANLCA secretariat.
Although the protest was supposed to take place in all the chapters of the association nationwide, it was only carried out successfully at the Tincan Island Port and Apapa Port chapters of ANLCA.
Speaking to newsmen in the essence of the protest, the Special Assistant to the ANLCA Chairman on Revenue, Mr. Shittu Akande Balogun said that they embarked on the protest to sensitize their members not to pay the POF which was to commence on the 1st of August, 2017.
Balogun stated that the ANLCA was bent on its insistence that only a well constituted Governing Council of CRFFN had the power to determine monies to be collected by CRFFN and not the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and the Registrar of CRFFN, Sir Mike Jukwe.
According to him, “We told them, this money, you cannot collect it without the Board, it is only the Board who can approve the collection of this money. But now, there is no Board, only Amaechi and Jukwe, the CRFFN Registrar that now took the decision and they impressed it on the registrar that he can use his power to collect.
“Meanwhile, ANLCA has gone to court, Lucky Amiwero’s faction of National Council of Managing Directors has gone to court saying that all these things are act of illegality. Despite that, Amaechi now issued instruction sometime last month that they should start collecting the money. We are now telling him, you are the Minister but you have no legal right to impose illegality on us because we know what we are doing”.
He noted that the collection which was supposed to commence on August 1, 2017 was postponed to commence today since nobody was ready to pay thereby informing their decision to embark on the protest to sensitize their members on the need not to pay the fee.
When asked what would happen if the Transport Ministry and CRFFN went on with the collection, he replied, “We will use massive resistance, we are not going to yield, we will not pay. We will shut down the ports, then when people did not pay, they will call us and we will sit down and talk. We will withdraw our services because we as clearing agents, if we don’t pay, government will not have money. ”
It should be noted that ANLCA is the biggest freight forwarding association in the country and their absence would cause some discomfort for business at the ports. However, ANLCA should also be mindful that there are four other registered associations and several thousands of agents who aren’t registered under any association, but are angling for jobs of ANLCA members.