ANLCA Crisis: Suspended NECOM Showing no Genuine Attempt At Making Peace—Goddy Sewa Solej

Comrade Goddy Sewa Soleji, Chairman KLT Chapter of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA)



…Narrates How 4 Bonded Terminals Withdrew from KLT Terminal



The Chairman of Kirikiri Lighter Terminal (KLT) Chapter of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Comrade Goddy Sewa Soleji has faulted the court-suspended National Executive Committee (NECOM) of the association under the leadership of Hon Tony Ija Nwabunike for not being sincere to the out of court settlement its lawyers had pleaded for before a Federal Judge at the Federal High Court Lagos recently.

In this interview with DAILY TREND NEWS, the ANLCA Chairman stated that going by the purported National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held recently by Iju and his executives, they have shown no signs of genuine peace.
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Talking about ANLCA Crisis, three weeks ago, a Federal High Court Judge asked the gladiators to go and settle, have there been any move to bring peace?

The crisis that ANLCA is having is man-made, the association used to be one big family untill the issue of greed came in. We need to retrace our steps, those who are on the wrong side, those who have gone astray must come to repentance and retrace their steps, they have to confess their evil and apologise to their partners, this is only time genuine peace can reign.
Without doing this, no other steps taken for bringing peace can work


In situations like this, the other party, which is the NECOM, also have a point they want to argue on, don’t you think it has to be a compromise?

Compromise is not a good language, when you compromise, it means you have done something wrong, the right word is dialogue.
I believe there is room for dialogue, dialogue must come into play, without dialogue there can never be a solution to ANLCA problems, however, confession and repentance must come before dialogue.

The damage that the actors in this crisis have caused ANLCA, the maritime industry and the Nigerian economy in general is very huge,

all of us cannot be right at the same time and be wrong at the same time, so, those on the wrong side should admit their faults, apologise, then we would come to dialogue. This is the only time the peace can be permanent and strengthened.
The suspended leadership of Tony Iju has done a lot of harm to ANLCA and to the nation economy.

How has the crisis affected your people at the chapter level?

The crisis has affected us all because whatever problem we are solving now, we are doing it based on individual influence and commitment.
For somebody like me, I have always been a unionist, I am a born and true Comrade, I go out there to speak for my members and address their challenges, am not a Chairman that seat in the office and direct, I am called to serve, so I go out for the people. So, there is no longer any collective solving of problems in ANLCA again as it used to be, but to the glory of God, he is still using some of us to solve problems for the agents from day to day. However we cannot solve it all, the collective strength to solve it is better, it has not been easy at all.

Comrade Soleji fielding questions from our correspondent on Wednesday in Lagos

So, for genuine peace to reign, it is good to settle out of court, the other faction submitted application with our lawyer as we were told, but how sincere are they?
If they say they want to settle out of court, and they are still occupying that office illegally, and they still went ahead to hold a purported NEC meeting, does that show that they are genuine? Definitely the foundation is faulty, they are not sincere, if they are sincere, they wouldn’t have gone ahead to hold a NEC meeting after they have committed a lot of court contempt before now, after they submitted application through their lawyer that they want to settle out of court which is a good move, there is room for that under the law, we embrace peace.
But you want to build a house and the foundation is not solid, it would collapse, the foundation is for them to realise their mistakes, repent out of it, amd then dialogue. It is assumed that before they presented that application to settle out of court, they must have repented, and they have laid the foundation for peace. But after holding this NEC meeting, I don’t see the peace coming, they are not sincere about it. They are not supposed to take any step again until the peace process is concluded and the Judge gives final ruling and we can all go back and relate as one.
The NEC meeting they held is just a kangaroo meeting, it is not acceptable by us or by the law, it is not binding on any genuine ANLCA member.


The BOT appears to be a toothless bulldog, because it refuses to act, up till now, despite having backing of the court, do you feel disappointed?

It is true that Customs brokers made a statement at the press briefing recently that if the BOT cannot act, they should vacate their position. The reason why the appointed Zonal Leader made that statement is because the BOT ought to have acted based on the court order, but they didn’t act. When we engaged them before now, they too have a point, unless they are not being sincere about what they told us, what they told us was that they do not want blood shed because the suspended executives have decided not to leave that office. The first time the board made an attempt to evacuate them, there was an issue and confrontation, based on that, the BOT wants to maintain peace, they believe in the Judiciary that justice can only be delayed but not denied.
It now depends on the genuineness of their heart, if it is true that they refused to act because they don’t want blood shed, it is good, because I am also a child of God and I don’t want anything bloodshed, no matter how lies fly, the truth would definitely prevail.


The ANLCA President,Tony Iju reportedly said importation has dropped by 50%, and he blamed customs high-handedness, is there really a reduction in importation, considering we are in December?


Let me first correct you by saying that Tony Iju is no longer the President of ANLCA, he has been suspended, so please stop addressing him as President of ANLCA.
The issue of importation dropping by 50% is not true, importation has not dropped by 50%, when you are going to the port, you can see containers litering everywhere, even at Apapa Port right now there is a congestion, how can somebody now say that importation has dropped by 50%? If there is any difference in the rate of importation, it can not be 50% as they are painting it.

Comrade soleji

I would like to tell you that in this business, if an importer makes a honest declaration, he has no problems with the customs, if you see any container having problems, you would find out that it is either their documentation is not properly done or they have done something else.
I don’t see reasons why the Nigeria Customs Service would want to witch-hunt anybody, every professional that is sound and trained to do this job, if the customs want to intimidate you or classify your cargo wrong, you have the right to contest it, there is room for that, you have to be bold enough, once you are convinced that you know what you are doing. If the officer refuses, meet his superior officer, it doesn’t work, go and meet the Area Controller, if it doesn’t work, you go to Zonal Office, if it is not resolved, you go to the Customs Headquarters in Abuja to get justice.


What about the time that must have been wasted in this process and demurrages accrueing on the cargo?


The time wasted could be an issue, this is why is it must be a sacrifice, if a trained customs officer wants to intimidate you, it is better you sacrifice that time to fight for your right and put an end to such extortion, instead of you being scared I to submission, you don’t have to compromise, stand firm and speak intelligently to prove your points.
Propaganda and blackmail is not a good thing, for a trained professional agent, it is not good to engage in such attitudes, whatever you do, you must be professional about it. The problem most clearing agents face most times is that they don’t come out to express themselves boldly and prove their points.


Sir, how has KLT Chapter been faring in recent times?


While you were on your way coming here, you can see the road condition, even though it is a little different from what it used to be last year, it is still an issue affecting operational activities. The road condition and the challenge of stemming containers to KLT is another challenge, you know that ships don’t berth here, we depend solely on transfer of containers from mother ports of Tin Can Port and Apapa Port.
We have a challenge of network failures here sometimes, the server fails, and this affects our operations.


How many terminals do you have in KLT right now


Due to the traffic situation and non availability of containers in some of the terminals, the terminal owners have decided to withdraw their bond from KLT and send it back to the mother ports so that they could be getting transfer of containers directly from there. Right now, the functional terminals in KLT are ; KLT phase 1, phase 2, the phase 3 is just there functioning below 10%, Port Express is also functioning below 20%, the two major terminals functioning properly now are just Phase 1 and Phase 2.
The terminal operators determine the command under which they want to register their bond, for example, Clarion Bonded Terminal decided to run their bond at Apapa Customs even though their terminal is situated inside KLT Phase 2, this caused a lot of issues that we had to intervene, the access and gate control became an issue, but it was resolved in Abuja. The terminal is still under Apapa port, but it ie still operating at KLT Terminal.
One good thing about port operations is that, the fact that the bond is under Apapa Customs, and the terminal is located in KLT does not matter, as an agent, we still clear our cargo from any terminal, the only difference is revenue, the customs duty at Clarion Terminal is being paid to Apapa Customs Command, even though it is the same federation account, the revenue target is recorded to favour Apapa than KLT where the terminal is located.


Apart from Clarion Terminal, which other Bonded Terminals withdrew their bond from KLT?


Others are Mid-maritine Terminal, Duncan Bonded Terminal and SCOA Bonded terminal.


On implementation of the VREG, we learnt that there is an official fee being collected, how convenient is this going?


It is a Federal Government policy, and the only thing we can advocate for right now is the review of policy, as a man, you cannot fight government, once there is an unfriendly policy, what we have to do is to engage the government through the appropriate quarters. Ours is to advise government on amendment, for every law of the government passed, there is always room for amendments, there is no policy that cannot be amended if it is not favorable to the citizen.

Is the VREG Policy a favorable one?

I am not in position to determine whether its good or bad, if there is room for interaction, it is not by complaining in the news, but to direct it to the government agencies concerned. We are already demanding a forum for such interaction, where all operators would be there.

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