A group of freight forwarders under the aegis of Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria, (APFFLON) have said that the Nigeria Customs Integrated System (NICIS) window has failed to cub illegalities and delays in customs operations.
The group in an open letter to the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col Hameed Ali also advised the customs boss to scrap the use of “camp boys” by serving customs officers.
“Camp boys” are errand boys employed by serving customs officers to run all manner of messages ranging from official to domestic.
The letter was signed by APFFLON National President, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite.
The group alleged that many serving Custom officers were hiding under their camp boys to run clearing licenses and competing with the approved freight forwarders.
APFFLON alleged that the NICIS 2 window developed by the customs to ensure ease of doing business has suffered self defeat, adding that it has not reduced human contacts at the port as it was projected.
The letter reads in part “Association however, commended the Comptroller General and his management team for their efforts towards the upgrade and integration of clearance process of the NICIS window”
“Noting however, that the system has not in anyway limited or reduced human contacts with officers and cargo, and that the system suffers self defeat as it is coercive and does not promote the culture of professionalism among other short comings of the system”
APFFLON said it was reaching out to customs in the open letter because of mix up in the system which it says is driven by parochialism and sycophancy,which hampers effective administrative correspondences and information flow.
Making reference to the 2005 Presidential Committee on Customs operations report which tried to correct some of the observed ills in customs operation, the Association said unfolding events in the customs ports is gradually going back to pre Nigeria Customs ports and border operations 2005.
“The code of ethics of the NCS specifically prohibits officers and men of the service from engaging in the business of clearing or forwarding of imported goods.”
But that contrary to that code of ethics many of them flout this and other regulations by using fronts and other such arrangements to do so.
Among other abnormalities pointed out by APFFLON are: insider trading and preferential treatment, controls and racketeering, non compliance with rules of engagement, insecurity and safety etc.
As a remedy, it suggested among others that the use of camp boys at the operational base should be discouraged,while also advising them to embrace open door policy in all ramifications,and also to empower the zonal coordinators and Area Comptrollers by assigning greater responsibilities to them,and discourage insider training to achieve licensing regulations and advancement.
APFFLON further suggested the stoppage of indiscriminate use of task force in place of line staff and that the present task force should be disbanded and their work returned to the zonal and Area commands.
“If there must be an urgent need for task force to stem or stabilize operational misgivings, it should be structured as an ad-hoc interventionist, or corrective measures that will act within a short frame of time, then disbanded afterwards”
It advised that Area officers should be promptly compelled to take responsibility for their actions and inactions,and that training and capacity building of officers should be intensified and sustained.