By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has kicked against the continued interception of already cleared consignments at Nigerian ports by the officers of Nigerian Police Force.
The Nigerian Police at Apapa Area B Command has recently been engaging in interception of illicit imports and transferring the case as well as suspects to the appropriate agencies for prosecution.
The latest interception was the 40-foot container laden with drugs suspected to be tramadol and codeine in Lagos last week.
The container was intercepted on water and taken to a bonded terminal in Apapa.
Speaking at the commissioning of bikes and operational vehicles for the newly inaugurated “ANLCA Task Force” in Apapa yesterday, Vice President of ANLCA, Kayode Farinto said it was wrong for anyone to import illicit drugs through the port. He however frowned at the fact that police officers are taking advantage of this, and are now stopping the releasing of already cleared cargoes exiting the port.
According to him, this is a clog in the wheel of trade facilitation and 48hours cargo clearance.
The ANLCA Vice President recalled that the Inspector General of Police had sometimes ago warned police officers not to interfer in stopping cargoes cleared at the port.
“We have noticed that the maritime police command are now stopping cargoes as against the initial directive of the Inspector General of Police, my Tin Can Chapter Chairman has given me many specimen”
“Our problem in Nigeria is that everybody is a lord unto himself, there was a particular letter from the office of the Inspector General of Police signed by the IG himself that on no condition must a police officer stop the releasing of cargoes at our ports”
“It was stopped for sometime, but we noticed that since Friday, they have started intercepting cargoes again” he lamented.
Farinto informed that the matter has already been reported to the port economic regulator, Nigerian Shippers Council and assured freight forwarders that the matter is already being given needed attention.
He however cautioned clearing agents and freight forwarders not to engage in clearing of harmful substances like Tramadol and Codeine at the port. He said that any agent that cleared such a consignment, his children would equally become drug addicts.
“As licensed customs agents, please make sure that you are patriotic Nigerians, psychotic drugs like Tramadol is in our ports, please don’t be part of clearing them, if you clear Tramadol, your children would take drugs, it is not a course, whatever you sow you reap” he said
Meanwhile, the ANLCA Task Force yesterday took delivery of four motorbikes and three operational vehicles to enhance its operations at the port.
The task force was inaugurated recently to solve challenges confronting members in the clearing of their consignments and to expose corruption at the port.
The three operational vehicles were donated by the Chairman of Tin Can Chapter, Prince Segun Oduntan while the bikes were equally donated by other well meaning members of the association.
While speaking, Farinto commended the Western Zone Cordinator, Sir John Offorbike and the Tin Can Island Chairman, saying that without the chapters, there can never be zones and without the zones, there could be no national.
“I want to employ all the various chapter chairmen to emulate this kind of good gesture, our members believed that we are not doing anything, but we are doing our best.
“I want to tell you that the National is not resting, we would continue to make sure we protect you, but please work within the confines of the law, if you know you have done things that are legitimate, we are there to support you.
I also hope the various chairmen in the east would emulate what is happening in the west and borrow a leaf from it”
Also speaking at the event, the Western Zone Cordinator, Sir John Offorbike warned the Registrar of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to stop interfering in association matters.
Even though he acknowledged that CRFFN is the regulator of freight forwarders, he however said the council has failed to solve the numerous challenges confronting the practitioners.
“According to Section 41 of Nigerian constitution, there is a freedom of association, ANLCA was registered 1954 and incorporated to represent importers and exporters”
“I am surprised that somebody from the hierarchy of CRFFN is saying that we should not breath when they are stepping on our toes, there are laws and norms, and corruption has eaten deep into our port system”
“As an elected official, my position and duty is to protect my members that elected me, if I cannot provide them leadership, then I better resign”
“Setting up the task force is enshrined in ANLCA constitution, so, the CRFFN being a regulatory agency does not mean we should not breath, there is a 4th force trying to use the Registrar”
“People are calling us corrupt, but now we want to tell the whole world that we are not part of it, we want to expose the corruption inside the port, the CRFFN Registrar should be careful because he is playing somebody’s tune” he said