ANLCA risks proscription, may settle out of court
Moved by the need to generate funds for the Federal Government and sanitize the freight forwarding sub-sector, Minister of Transport, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi has approved the collection of Professional Operating Fee (POF) by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
Amaechi was said to have given his approval after a thorough briefing by the Registrar of CRFFN, Sir Mike Jukwe, who was said to have highlighted the need to entrench professionalism in the freight forwarding sub-sector and boost the nation’s export potentials.
But the minister’s directive is coming when there is a subsisting order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Federal Ministry Of Transport (FMOT) from implementing the POF.
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) had dragged the former Permanent Secretary of the FMOT, CRFFN, Inspector-General of Police before the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, seeking the re-constitution of the Governing Council of CRFFN.
Following this development, ANLCA, it was gathered may have begun moves to settle out of court with CRFFN, especially against the backdrop that the Minister was said to have been miffed by ANLCA’s action at a time the Federal Government is in dire need of revenue to finance its heavy deficit budgetary appropriation in 2016 fiscal year.
MMS Plus further gathered that unless ANLCA acts smart by resolving the legal crisis, it may risk proscription and de-registration from CRFFN registry as one of the legitimate associations in the industry.
Speaking with MMS Plus, the President of ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu said, “We are still in court. I am not aware that anybody is negotiating. We have a committee that was set up for that. But it is not to my knowledge that anybody has approached the association.”
“But if we must settle out of court there must be an agreement. However, if the Minister has given approval for that, we are not aware and there is no letter to that effect.”
Dr. Kayode Farinto, the National Publicity Secretary of ANLCA, added in a phone interview with MMS Plus.
According to Jukwe, who acknowledged the new Minister’s disposition towards the POF collection, “Yes the Minister has been briefed but there are certain things we are still working on before we make pronouncement on this, and because the matter is still in court , we don’t want to talk about it.”
ANLCA had also joined as co-defendants in the suit, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), National Association of Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC), National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders, Nigeria (AREFFN), among others.
ANLCA had also averred that the Act that established CRFFN stipulates that the Council is only empowered to collect the POF through its Governing Council, which has not been re-constituted.
POF collection has created a long-drawn battle between ANLCA and other registered associations. ANLCA has been laying claim to lion share in the sharing formula on the grounds that it has larger number of members, but when the ratio argument seemed difficult to resolve, ANLCA resorted to court action, following a fracas at Seme border in which properties belonging to CRFFN were destroyed and officials allegedly beaten up to stupor by ANLCA members. Other associations, however, have insisted that the revenue be shared equally.