CRFFN Scampers For Survival Over FG Funding Withdrawal As Usoro Intervenes

 CRFFN Scampers For Survival Over FG Funding Withdrawal As Usoro Intervenes
  • How minister,ministry usurp governing council powers
  • Council members not public officers

The recent unsettling  Federal Government Policy that stopped the funding of professional bodies by December 2023 is gradulally forcing the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria(CRFFN)to revert to its intended objective of creation which has been mired in controversies and made subject of litigations, seeking interpretation of the enabling  CRFFN Act of 2007.  

Consequently,  while the management of the Council and  top officials of the Federal Ministry of Transportation  have begun rallying stakeholders for funding windows and support for the effective enforcement and collection of the Council’s Practitioners’ Operating Fees(POF), the freight forwarding community and other stakeholders  are deeply concerned about the still-birth and derailment of the Council since created in 2007.

In particular, Mrs. Mfon Usoro, a legal expert who drafted the Bill and nurtured it to Act has recalled one of her numerous interventions to redirect CRFFN, saying the Council by intendments and creation is not a government agency; Council members are not public officers; Minister and Ministry usurp the powers of the governiong council even as the Council was not designed to be funded by government appropriations.

MMS Plus gathered that the Ag. Registrar and Chief Executive Officer(CEO), Mrs Chinyere Uromta in company  of some top ministry officials have visited the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA), Seme Border officials and Customs Command, among others, to seek support and compliance to bridge the funding gap.  

Our source disclosed that the terminal operators are really cooperating in line with their earlier commitment but the Council is scarvenging for more sources of support across its statutory areas of operations which are land borders,airports and seaports to beat the December deadline of the government.

Usoro, the former Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) reminisced about her intervention in CRFFN crisis in a letter entitled: “The Quagmire of CRFFN:Voluntary Intervention By Mfon Ekong Usoro,” dated August 16,2010, addressed to the Minister of Transport.

Her sincere intervention and that of others who wanted to rescue the sinking CRFFN have been heating the rock because of interests,MMS Plus’ findings revealed.

Regretting that the situation that necessitated the  establishment of the Act are still very prevelent thirteen years after, she informed that the Council was to change the image of the Nigerian freight forwarders as touts,stop delay and excessive costs at the ports and diversion of cargo to neigbouring countries.

On passage of the Act, the objectives of the Council, according to her, among others, is to set  standards for  entry into the profession, oversea professional  competence, and discipline  as well as regulate  freight forwarding  in line with overall policies on port reforms.

It was further empowered to conduct  examination and award qualifying  certificates  to freight forwarders; establish and enforce  uniform  standards of  professional conduct and practice.

On the relationship between the Council and the Federal Ministry of Transportation, her letter noted that CRFFN was established  to provide the regulatory framework  for freight forwarders to self regulate themselves as engineers and accountants are self regulated under their respective enabling legislations, adding that  Paul Usoro & Co. in drafting the CRFFN Bill closely followed the precedents set by engineers and accountants in COREN and ICAN. These are self regulating professional associations which operate  independently  of any ministry even though  ministers are mentioned in their respective laws

Citing the provisions of the Act on the limited role of the Minister  to  the council , she stated ”An order or directive made without the statutory conditions having been complied with, is ultra vires and can be quashed”. The Minister though have the powers to appoint members of the governing council emanating from the registered associations.

Contrary to how the governing council members conduct themselves today, Paragraph 10 of the first schedule of the Act provides that, “ A person shall not by reason only of his membership of the Council be treated as holding  an office in the public service”, Usoro stated.

On the source of funding as provided  by the Act,the Council is to be funded solely  by the practicing fees paid by its members, other monies payable such as registration fees or fines”.

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