By DAPO OLAWUNI
Following the hardship that the Naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has inflicted on Nigerians, clearing agents at the nation’s ports have alleged that “settlements” to corrupt officers of the Nigeria Customs Service is now being demanded in cash.
The clearing agents who spoke with DAILY TREND on condition of anonymity to avoid victimization alleged that customs officers are now rejecting bank transfers, and that they are referring clearing agents to make payment to certain POS Operators.
The clearing agents lamented that port operations has been greatest hit by the Naira redesign policy and that many banks are not allowing clearing agents into the bank, even to pay for customs duties.
When our correspondent pointed out that cargoes that are compliant need no customs settlement, the affected agents disagreed, saying that customs still collect settlement on cargoes with perfect documentation.
According to them, failure to settle would result to the cargo being delayed.
One of the agents who is a chieftain of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) said “The Naira redesign is affecting operations at the port, the customs are further frustrating is with the illegal money they are collecting, they are now rejecting transfer, they are asking us to go and pay to the POS operators, meanwhile the POS operators would also input their charges.
“This money is different from customs duty, the payment of duty is done at the bank, but this is settlement. Even the normal jobs that do not have any complaints on them, the customs still collect settlement on it.
“On vehicles, even after perfecting your VIN Valuation, the customs still collect money before they release your vehicle, if you don’t give them money, the vehicle would remain inside the port and continue to attract demurrage.
“Now the customs officers are in partnership with POS Operators, they know that if they give us their own account, we can use it to indict them”
Also speaking, a top member of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) lamented that most of the commercial banks in Apapa are not allowing operators entrance into the banks.
“There is lockdown at the port, everywhere is dry, those that went to the bank for transaction could not go into the bank, at some of these banks, what they do is to come outside and collect your documentation” he said
Also speaking with our correspondent, a senior member of the ANLCA at Tin Can Port stated that clearing agents do not have access to cash in order to process clearance of their cargoes at the port.
He said “I had to buy N20,000 for N24,000 in order to process my job on Tuesday. Most of the customs officers are rejecting bank transfer because they cannot afford to give out their account details.
“They have made arrangements with some of their cronies that are into POS Operation, that’s where you go and pay all settlement, you know that bribery is a big offense, so they are being careful” he stated