By DAPO OLAWUNI
The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has absolved the Nigerian Customs Service of any wrongdoing, saying that the service should not be blamed for the poisonous rice allegedly donated to Oyo state Government.
In a press release signed by the Founder of NAGAFF, Dr Boniface Aniebonam, the association argued that the Presidency, Minister of Finance and Minister of Health should be held responsible and liable because the Nigerian Customs is answerable to superior authorities.
Aniebonam also charged the Nigeria Customs under the leadership of Col Hameed Ali to call the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari to the several containers of trade goods lying at the ports which were seized by the customs and are rotting away.
He appealed that the owners of the cargoes should be invited to pay appropriate customs duty and penalty thereto as a punishment for the contravention of customs laws, and be allowed to pick their cargoes.
On the contaminated rice saga, the NAGAFF founder recalled that the Customs CGC had said that some of the rice seized in the past were expired and in some cases conterminated.
“We are constrained to point out that it shall be the duty of the presidency to ask questions at the time of giving approval to distribute the alleged expired rice kept in the custody of customs as a palliatives”
“It is also the duty of the presidency to direct NAFDAC through Ministry of Health to undergo quality assurance test of the said rice before its distribution”
“The Nigeria customs service do not have any business with all of the issues arising from the rice palliative other than to carry out orders of the presidency as recieved.
“It is to NAGAFF that there is a gross negligence of duty on the part of Ministry of health and its subsidiary ( NAFDAC) in carrying out their oversight functions on those rice palliative under questioning even before this time of need . This mattee indeed have nothing to do with the comptroller General of customs as a person nor the customs service because they are not saddled with quality control duty nor designed as a quality control agency of the government.
“We urge all the concerned parties to look in the direction of presidency, ministry of health and NAFDAC to know what actually happened really”
The NAGAFF founder argued further that it is possible for the federal government to realise billions of Naira from impounded goods by the customs as way of duty, rather than selling it auction over a paltry sum.
“One is tempted to ask why do we seize the rice and left it out of time at the government warehouses. Why have we not sold them auction and or give it out to the needy because it is a common knowledge that rice can not withstand humid conditions for a longer time”
“We also know that there are so many ladden containers and vehicles seized by the customs which may be out of time for auction sales and or as the board of Nigeria Customs may deem it proper to deal with those goods lying at the ports and government approved warehouses .
“Under COVID 19 pandemic palliatives, it shall be the advise of NAGAFF to Mr President that the owners of such seized trade goods be granted amnesty to come forward and pay appropriate customs duty and penalty thereto and take delivery of their imports” Aniebonam said.