Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Dr Boniface Aniebonam has warned licensed customs agents operating at Nigerian ports to stop blackmailing the Nigeria Customs Service and rather, focus on promoting compliance and legitimate trade.
Aniebonam in an interview with DAILY TREND was reacting to recent anxieties that the customs service may have decentralised its powers at various commands at the ports, a situation that has also led to creation of multiple task forces, including the Comptroller General Strike Force.
He said that the low level of compliance by the importers and agents has led to the multiple layers of checks by the customs. He advised that a simple solution is for all licensed customs agents to be compliant and make correct declarations for customs purpose.
The NAGAFF Founder who is also a former customs officer said “As it is today, nothing has changed. If you are looking at the CGC Strike force, some people make statements that are unfounded, some I refer as “Ambulance Chasers” and meddlesome interlopers, the operational powers is rested on the Comptroller General, if you look at section 4 and 5 of the customs law you will see the management team, he has the authority to make a regulation that would add value to his statutory functions”
“Decentralization of authority is again an additional input to facilitation of trade to make it seamless, the CGC is coming with new ideas”
“Some of the people who are making these false allegations are people who live in glass houses and they are throwing stones, it bothers me a lot that a lot of people don’t know the inherent powers in the Customs law, many people going to jail everyday without knowing, you must not go and wake a sleeping giant”
“Customs have been so magnanimous to a lot of people all in the name of facilitating trade, if you look at section 46, 47, 161, 162, all matters of untrue declaration is five years imprisonment without option of fine if you are found guilty in court. But still in the name if facilitation of trade which to me is wrongly being used, the law itself is very obvious, they are only trying to bring in human elements”
“The solution to all these blackmailing is compliance, if you are not compliant to import and export regulations, you won’t be discussing issues of trade facilitation”
“The way NAGAFF understood trade facilitation is your capacity to be compliant, therefore building capacity in what you do, nobody would facilitate an illegitimate trade”
“So solving the problem is in our hands. Revenue matter is a serious matter and you cannot beat your chest and say that things are going right in our ports, things are not well, if you doubt me, you can go to the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) and see the interventions they have made, we are doing things wrongly, anybody that thinks he can blackmail customs institution is just wasting his time”
“The way forward is for you to do the right thing”