The Importers Association of Nigeria(IMAN), embarks on a strategic working relationship with freight and licensed customs agents when it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with four out of the five accredited freight forwarding associations of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
The president of IMAN, Chief Osita Okereke reiterated that IMAN seeks to bring all registered freight forwarding associations to sign a memorandum of understanding with the aim of fighting corruption in the maritime industry and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in particular.
According to him, “After we had a meeting with Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), we decided to give a 100 percent support to the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) initiative because we have discovered that 80 percent of customs officers are clearing agents even as government paid salary earners.
“They have betrayed Nigerians and kept shippers and their agents uncomfortable so the mission of NSC must be supported.” He said.
Similarly, founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam stated that the licensing regulations function of Customs has become a platform for fraudulent practices in the ports as regards collection of customs duties.
He said, “licensing regulations has to do with corporate organisations and it is only the courts that can unravel who is behind it, hence, we are addressing corruption from customs license in the ports and that is why licensing must be issued to individuals.”
Aniebonam explained that CRFFN as a regulatory agency is specifically discussing the issue of professionalism and it is only an individual that can become a professional because a Limited company cannot be called a professional.
Speaking further, he said, “our stand is that if Customs continues to license corporate entities in this regard, corruption will remain in the port because there is no way to know those who smuggle arms and ammunition.
“Even when you look at the issue of licenses belonging to Customs as so many allege, you cannot be sure just by looking at the license you can only infer based on the level of interest an officer shows in a particular license. So, for us to go professional. We need to take part in this change that is blowing across the country.” He said.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Barr. Hassan Bello who was represented by the Assistant Director Ports and Terminals Services, expressed satisfaction at the support of freight agents and IMAN for the re-introduction of CTN and the call for its immediate take off adding that the Council represents the interest of not only shippers and their agents but terminal operators, shipping companies and the government as well and so dedicated to making the CTN work in the interest of all.
The four associations who entered the memorandum are, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Association of Registered Freight Forwarders (AREFF), National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) and Nigerian Association of Air Freight Forwarders And Consolidators (NAFFAC).
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) were supposed to be partners in this joint memorandum but were conspicuously absent and the space above name, noticeably vacant.