Associations of Licensed Customs Agents have accused the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi and the Registrar of the Council For the Regualtion of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Mr. Mike Jukwe of illegalities in the collection of the Practitioners Operating Fees (POF).
The associations said that it was the responsibility of the Council to collect the POF and not the Registrar, thus they called the attention of the President Mohammadu Buhari to the purported plans of the Minister and the Registrar to neglect the law since the Council had been dissolved since 2012.
The agents made this argument recently at a town-hall meeting organized in Lagos by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) on POF.
The President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Mr. Lucky Amiwero stressed that there was no provision in the CRFFN Act that authorizes the Registrar or any other organ of government to act on behalf of the Dissolved Council, the Registrar or any organ of government, cannot perform any function of the Council without the elected and appointed members of the Council.
“Under Section 2, which conferred authority on the Chairman and Vice elected to perform the function as contained in Section 2-(3) The absence of a legally constituted body nullifies any activity that is to be initiated by the Registrar/ any Administrative staff or any organ of government as contained in CRFFN Act”, Amiwero said.
He also maintained that the Minister of Transport had no legal impetus to regulate the Council but only give direction of general character, which limits the function of the Minister to only when the Council is in place.
“ By the provision of Section 5-(1) & (2) of the CRFFN Act, the Minister cannot interfere in the Affairs of the Council without a properly constituted council made up of all elected and appointed member in line with the provision of Section 2, which has cease to be since November 2012, this limits any decision taken by the Minister without the Council”, He said.
Meanwhile, the Customs Licensed Agents maintained that the Ministry of Transportation had no powers to regulate their operations or impose on them the controversial Practitioners Operating Fees (POF) since they are under the Ministry of Finance.
They argued that licensed Customs agents are not freight forwarders who fall under the regulation of the Ministry of Transportation, acting through a duly established Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (CRFFN).
Consequently, they noted that CRFFN, which now seeks to regulate the entire clearing profession, especially on the mode of sharing the estimated annual accrual of N2.5 billion from POF, rests on faulty and illegal regulatory framework because its incumbent registrar was not an elected chief executive but an appointed staff. Therefore, he has no power to regulate or collect any fee than freight forwarders’ subscription fee.