By DAPO OLAWUNI
Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Dr Boniface Aniebonam has urged the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Hon Emmanuel Jime to prosecute corrupt Nigerian shipping companies on criminal charges and not to treat port extortions as a civil matter.
Recall that freight forwarders at Nigerian ports have threatened to withdraw their services from the port due to extortions from the shipping companies.
Some of the allegations raised by the freight forwarders was the collection of over N150,000 on each container before they could be dropped off at holding bays, collection of demurrage for issues and delays which is direcrly the fault of the shipping companies, non refund of container deposit funds, among others.
Speaking exclusively with DAILY TREND NEWS at the weekend, the NAGAFF founder urged Hon Jime to take the bull by the horn, and get in touch with Inspector General of Police to assign police officers to the council in effecting its mandate.
Aniebonam alleged that payment of freight from abroad is total, a payment already made by the importer. But that getting to Nigeria, the shipping companies still extort money from the freight forwarders under various pretences.
“Shipping companies still charge on cargoes even though the importer has paid for all freights, this is corruption being perpetuated by the shipping companies”
“All we are discussing now bores down to cheating, which is a criminal act, when you collect money that is not approved by the government, it is a crime, and the matter should be taken from a criminal angle, not from the civil angle”
“The problem with our sector is that criminal matters are being treated as civil matters. If you arraign one or two top executives officers of these shipping companies, others would seat up. It takes a man who know what he is doing to do this”
“Hassan Bello (immediate past Executive Secretary) left a very big shoe which the new Executive Secretary had to wear, i know he can do it, maybe he is still studying the environment” he said
According to the NAGAFF founder, the foot solders of the Shippers Council are the registered associations and stakeholders.
He said that a lot of maritime industry practitioners still have the feeling that the council is advisory in its function, and this is why as a commercial regulator, they are still being harassed because its regulatory powers is not an Act of the National Assembly.
“I have ways advised the council to get in touch with Inspector General of Police to assign police to them and prosecute any criminal matter, when you cheat or collect money not approved by the Federal Government, it is a crime” Aniebonam stated.