…Don’t Push me to the Wall, Compt Malanta Warns Non-compliant Agents
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Licensed customs agents operating at Apapa Port have raised an alarm over alleged double examination of containers, a multimillion Naira racket which they claimed is now being perpetrated by some officers at Apapa Customs.
This is even as the Customs Area Controller of Apapa Command of Nigeria Customs Service, Compt Yusuf Malanta has sounded a warning to non-compliant agents not to push him to the wall.
One of the licensed agents, a former Chairman of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Lilypond Chapter, Mr Femi Olabanji in a chat with DAILY TREND NEWS on Wednesday claimed that the synergy between Maritime Police and the Apapa Customs is killing genuine trade.
Our correspondent learnt that the maritime police usually stop already cleared containers based on intelligence, and after the owners have done the needful, the container is released.
Apparently, Compt Yusuf Malanta had intervened on the matter with the AIG Maritime Police, where it was agreed that Customs should be allowed to handle any of such suspicions.
Speaking on this, Mr Femi Olabanji said “The maritime police after you have gone through your documents, done examination and released the cargo, when it gets to Terminal Delivery Order (TDO) they would tell you that maritime police has stopped your container”
“Before now, if the maritime police stops your container, they would look at your document, if the container has no problem, they would write a letter authorising you to go and pick your container
“But the new system today is killing, the AIG of maritime police and the Customs Area Controller of Apapa Customs have a synergy, that any container stopped by maritime police should be brought to Apapa, after this, they would now conduct another examination
“This happened to me and I want the Controller to look into it, it is not the Controller that is doing it, he has given it to a group of customs boys acting on it, and they are killing agents.
“They ask us to pay N10,000 bribe before you can drop a container, and they thereafter collect another N10,000 bribe before writing a report on each container.
“This is the second month that my container has been lying at the port since the encounter with maritime police. The demurrage we pay to terminal operators and shipping companies is still reading, many of the clearing agents are facing this same challenge.
The list is more than 300 containers”
“The container in question is raw material and the importers are in need of it, what do I tell them now?
“What the CAC has done is not bad, but the people he asked to address the situation are using it as an avenue to make money.
This has not been happening until recently, about two months ago we started experiencing it” he stated.
Recall that the Vice President of ANLCA, Dr Kayode Farinto had raised a similar allegation recently while speaking with journalists in Lagos.
Farinto alleged that there is a monitoring unit put in place by the Customs Area Controller and that they were putting frivolous alerts on cargoes.
Reacting in a chat with DAILY TREND NEWS, Apapa Customs Area Controller, Compt Yusuf Malanta stated the clearing agents should come forward and complain to him whenever any officer tries to extort them.
He however missed the allegations, describing it as a cheap blackmail coming from the clearing agents.
While explaining the situation to our correspondent, Compt Malanta stated that a lot of already released containers were stopped by the AIG Maritime Police over intelligence and he had to intervene.
“A lot of the agents have come forward to do examination and pick their containers, but some of them knew they have a bad job in the container so they don’t want to come forward, they want to cause confusion
“Maybe the police have an intelligence which i don’t know about, but I went there to save you, all you have to do is do a re-examination and yet you are not complying.
“You can ask some of the associations, I went to the AIG and we looked at this matter, he was a former police commissioner and I have that rapport with him and he agreed.
“Anybody who refuses to come forward to re-examine his container, after some time, I will drop it by force
“If any officer demands money from them, let them come to me and report. A non compliant trader would always want to blackmail customs officers that they are asking for money, its a cheap blackmail
“Let them be very careful with me, if not, the leniency I am giving to them to even pick some of their container, I will close that door of opportunity.
“An agent has made a false declaration and I said no problem, go and pay the correct duty and carry your consignment, it is supposed to be a seizure, but I allowed you to pay DN, this is because government is looking for revenue, if the container is seized, nobody would gain
“But if they push me, I would use the appropriate law, right now, I am behaving like a family member, trying to solve all their problems, but they don’t seem to understand
“They should come forward and show me one officer that is demanding money from them, then they would see how I would deal with the officer” he said