President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to decline assent to the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) amendment bill has been described by freight forwarders as a huge opportunity to correct some discrepancies in the Act.
Buhari, had on Tuesday, returned the bill to the National Assembly after refusing to sign the bill into law; raising observations on about 24 clauses and the schedules in the bill as passed by both Chamber of the National Assembly.
The President identified some of the problematic clauses to include; 4(b), 7(2), 7(3), 10(1)(a), 10(1)(b), 12, 14(1)(g), 16(3), 17(4), 18(1), 18(3), 18(6)(c), 111(3), 165(5)(a), 170(1)(a), 171, 175(1)(2), 180, 181, 184, 189, 194, 279, 181 and the Schedule.
Speaking with newsmen on this development, the National President of African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), Otunba Frank Ogunojemite said it is a golden opportunity for the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to make input on the requirements for granting Customs licenses.
“The biggest worry for CRFFN and practicing freight forwarders should be the discrepancies between the Customs Excise and Management Act (CEMA) and the CRFFN Act with regards the requirements for obtaining a Customs license. Going by the Council’s Act, only CRFFN accredited companies should be granted Customs licenses but the new CEMA only requires a company to be registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC),” Ogunojemite said.
He further observed that this issue is captured on section 19 of CRFFN Act and 153 to 157 of CEMA.
Meanwhile, it appears CRFFN will be in a race against time to effect this input as it wasn’t one of the clauses identified as problematic by President Buhari.
Following the President’s refusal to sign the bill, which seeks to amend the 64-year-old Customs Act, the House rescinded its earlier decision on the clauses and committed the bill to the Committee for reconsideration and further legislative action.
However, the House on Tuesday reconsidered the clauses objected to by the President and approves the correction of such clauses.
Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase, who presided over plenary, said the bill is being returned to the parliament by the President for the third time.
He said the bill was returned because of the observation made on the nature of the clauses by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
Wase told members that the required corrections have been made on the bill by the House Committee and tried to been out the clauses objected to by the President for consideration.