The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has commenced the collection of the highly controversial Practitioners Operations Fees (POF) at all Nigerian seaports, airports and border stations.
Henceforth, all cargoes exiting the port would have to pay N1, 000 on every imported 20-feet container and 2,000 per 40-feet container.
Receipt of payment of POF must now be presented before cargoes exit the ports.
Registrar of the CRFFN, Barr Samuel Nwakohu at a stakeholders sensitisation meeting held in Lagos yesterday disclosed that the collection is with immediate effect as the Council has gotten the last approval from the Federal Ministry of Finance on Monday.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed gave the approval in a letter dated 6th January, 2020, and signed by the Director, Home Finance, Okokon Udo.
Barr Nwakohu said already, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) Ministry of Transportation have all given the approval for the collection of the money to commence.
He added that the directive have equally been communicated to relevant agencies including Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Nigeria Customs Service and Terminal Operators.
“Last year, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) gave the approval for the commencement of POF, we also had to put ourselves together, we have held several meetings with leadership of the various associations, we have explained all to them”
“Yesterday, we received the last approval we have been awaiting from the Ministry of Finance. We had applied to the Ministry to make payment of POF a condition precedent to able exit of cargoes at any of the ports and border posts. It was only yesterday that the approval came”
“The truth is that we would have held this meeting a long time ago but I was waiting for this approval and gladly it has come yesterday”
“The last approval has been conveyed to Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Terminal Operators, NCAA and all other relevant agencies”
However, freight forwarders at the meeting who represented the five various associations kicked against the collection of the POF fees. The atmosphere in the hall became tense especially when the CRFFN Registrar was attending to question and answers.
Chairman of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) at Apapa chapter, Mr. Ndubuisi Uzoegbo kicked against the POF collection, charging CRFFN to rather focus on the numerous challenges confronting stakeholders in the freight forwarding sector.
“We don’t need this POF collection at this time” the NAGAFF chairman shouted.
Concerns raised by other freight forwarding associations at the meeting was that there are pending litigations against the CRFFN over the collection of POF, and without going to court to clear these cases, it would be prejudice for CRFFN to start collection of POF.
Responding to all these concerns however, CRFFN Refistrar, Barr Nwakohu said
“This meeting is just an awareness, it is not a meeting to tell you whether POF should be collected or not, POF is law right now, and my duty and the duty of my team is to enforce it”
“Like every other thing, I don’t expect that everybody will buy-in, but as time goes on, you will all see the sense in buying in”
“Going to court is normal, some go to court to establish their right, some go to court for nuisance reasons not minding if they can win or not, people have different reasons for going to court but I believe that we have gone past that stage, a whole lot of agreement has been reached, areas of concerns have been raised as much as practicable”