By Kenneth Jukpor
As part of efforts to encourage freight forwarders to resume their activities at Lagos seaports, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha has instructed security agencies not to arrest or victimize freight forwarders.
The SGF reiterated the exemption of freight forwaders from the lockdown even as he stressed that their services were crucial to the operationalization of the ports as directed by President Mohammadu Buhari.
Poor turnout of freight agents at Lagos ports and some cases of intimidation by security agencies since the lockdown led to the SGF’s call, even as he particularly directed Lagos State Police not to arrest or prevent customs brokers and freight forwarders from accessing the ports.
The President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Hon. Tony Iju Nwabunike revealed this in a press statement yesterday, while assuring members of the association to continuously provide feedback on issues on their operations under the lockdown.
“In line with my earlier committment to provide feedback on the issues surrounding our daily operations at the ports during the lockdown, I am pleased to inform you that the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) has instructed that all customs brokers, freight forwarders and port users are exempted from the lockdown”
“Consequently, he has instructed all the security agencies operating in and out of the ports, particularly the Lagos State Police Commissioner, not to arrest or prevent any customs broker/freight forwarder going forward, as we are also designated as providing essential services”, the report said.
Nwabunike, however, admonished freight agents to ensure they always had their port pass and company identity cards for proper identification when intercepted by security agencies.
The ANLCA boss further urged members of the association to call him in event of any attempt to be arrested by the police or other security agencies.
While encouraging the agents to return to ports, Nwabunike seized the opportunity to thank the SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha and the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) Mr. Hassan Bello for their professional and prompt handling of these challenges.
“I also want to thank the CRFFN Registrar and his council members for the sensitization visits to all Lagos ports yesterday. ANLCA is indeed very grateful to the federal government for their prompt response.”
“Be reminded that COVID 19 is real and we must adhere to all directives from the authorities, including social distancing. to stop the spread of the disease. I implore you to stay away from the ports if you don’t have any business at this time. Stay safe.” Nwabunike added.