By DAPO OLAWUNI
The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has vowed to pursue its court case which is currently before the Appeal Court, specifically to determine that the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) is not a government agency.
NAGAFF has also said it is supporting the collection of POF and there is no going back on it.
Recall that a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had in 2014 ruled that CRFFN is a government agency. Two freight forwarders, Messrs Ejike Nweke and Philip Nwankwo had gone to court to seek a declaration of the court that the defendant in this case, CRFFN is not a public Parastatal or government agency in line with paragraph 10 of the 1st schedule to the Council Act.
Ruling on the matter, the Presiding Judge, Honourable Justice Saliu Saidu ruled that the combined operation of the relevant sections of the CRFFN Act 2007 made it clear that CRFFN is a statutory regulatory agency of government.
But speaking at a press briefing in Lagos on Wednesday, Founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam alleged that the federal government was trying to hijack the Council haven realised that there is a potential for revenue collection.
Meanwhile, Aniebonam stressed that CRFFN is meant to be a body controlled by the freight forwarders themselves.
He however assured that NAGAFF case against the CRFFN is a friendly action, meant to rescue the soul of the agency from the grasp of the government.
Aniebonam said “Members of NAGAFF are still in court and we are still insisting that the CRFFN is not an agency of the government according to the Act that established the Council, it is a friendly action in court to develop our council, we are not relenting, we are taking it to the Supreme court if we don’t get it right at the Appeal Court, we are taking it up”
“Even as I am speaking, all the things we noted in the suit is what the transport ministry presented at the National Assembly for amendment”
“We are insisting that the CRFFN is not a government agency, it is a quashy agency, government presence is found in CRFFN through representative capacity, we are supposed to regulate ourselves”
“This is why the Act says that the Chairman of the Council must come from the register of Freight forwarders and not an appointee of the government”
Aniebonam alleged that the maiden elections of CRFFN was comprehensively rigged and those who knew nothing about the Council found their way in through the back door.
He advised that those propagating for the establishment of a Council for the regulation of Customs Brokerage should leave the CRFFN, they should not remain in the Council and work against the interest.
“Right now, the government seems to have seen that there is money in CRFFN, because of the attitude of the first executives led by Tony Nwabunike who is now the president of ANLCA, these are the people that came in and began to carry themselves as equals of a transport agency, they started driving vehicles with Nigerian Coat of Arms, this is because they don’t understand”
“Now the government is now interested in the Council and wants to make it a government agency, we are now struggling to even get something out of the Council, it is laughable because they caused self injury on themselves”
“There is system corruption in the CRFFN, why must the Council go to the federation account to be collecting money when section 6 of the Council Act has provided for”
“We have written an extensive document through our lawyer, it is now circulating in the National Assembly, we have told them that we are in Appeal Court, we are not stopping them from doing their job in trying to amend the Council Act, but good law should be made”
“Our action in court is friendly, in order to protect our council Act” he said
Aniebonam said the proceeds from the collection of POF is needed to increase capacity of the young freight forwarders, and to help them acquire knowledge and skill.