By DAPO OLAWUNI
There are indications that the newly enacted Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) 2023 has made provision for two slots for representation of freight forwarders on the Nigeria Customs Service Board.
The new CEMA according to findings, have also increased the validity of practicing licenses of clearing agents from one year to four years before renewal.
This is even as two prominent members of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) who are gladiators in the association’s ongoing crisis are currently scheming and jostling to fill the two slots reportedly made available on the customs board.
Two of the candidates according to findings by our correspondent are also serving board members of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN)
Meanwhile, the National Cordinator of the Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Importers and Exporters Coalition (SNFFIEC) Chief Osita Chukwu Patrick has called on the Federal Government and the Nigeria Customs to exercise caution in approving candidates representing freight forwarders into the customs board.
According to him, the slots should not be filled based on Association considerations because according to him, there are different associations practicing in the freight forwarding industry in Nigeria.
Speaking with DAILY TREND, Chief Osita Chukwu said there must be a
holistic evaluation of whoever is going to be on the board.
“Let them not just take anybody into the board, we need technocrats, well leaned people, people who are knowledgeable about the clearing profession.
“Going into the board is to help us as freight forwarders, not going into the board to make money. Customs should allow interested candidates to apply, not just take anybody, and whoever would emerge must be a license owner and must be doing well. Such a person must also know the job to the letter, the person’s CV must also be top notch, he must be educated.
“The board membership should take cognisance of the popularity and acceptance of such a candidate, it should not be based on association consideration, or else we would reject it” he warned
On the extension of license validity from one year to four years, Chief Osita said that his group had engaged the Nigeria Customs Service before the amendment of the CEMA Act on the need to increase the validity.
According to him, this would eradicate blocking of practicing licenses by customs, and reduce litigations as a result of this action.
“We went to Abuja and met with Tariff and Trade, we met with Licenses and Permits, we met with the ACG Zone A, Harvey Road in Lagos, we told them that if a driving license can be lasting for five years, and international passport of individuals last five years, why can’t company licenses enjoy the same
“The four years extension would allow customs to engage the license owners, it would reduce the troubles of freight forwarders flying to Abuja all the time, before the expiration of the four years, you must have clean whatever is cleanable, you must have corrected all your infractions and tidy it up.
“This would not lead to litigation which is everywhere today, customs blocking licenses without informing the owners on their offenses” he said