Following the recent call for punishment of officials of Nigeria Customs Service conspiring with freight forwarders to cheat the Federal Government in revenue payment (value cut) on imported vehicles, made by
President of Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics (APFFLON) Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, another group, Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders Importers Exporter Coalition (SNFFIEC) has risen in defense of the Customs service.
National Coordinator of the group, Chief Osita Chukwu Patrick has described public statement creditied to APFFLON President as “shooting himself on the foot.
Chukwu who spoke on Wednesday with press men in Lagos, affirmed that such reactions could lead to proper profiling of the APFFLON boss and his jobs, in a bid for operatives of customs to carry out their job diligently and effectively.
He said that customs officers exercise their discretionary powers by being lenient with freight forwarders and clearing agents in order to ensure smooth trade facilitation, and that such gesture should not be taken for granted.
Chukwu said the public outburst by the APFFLON boss could further jeopardize freight agents clearance process and procedures.
He said ” Whoever goes for equity must go with clean hands. Ogunojemite that was talking to be frank does not understand the implications of such statement, in fact I don’t think that was what he meant because when customs should start profiling all his jobs , then he will understand .
“For me what he has done might land him in trouble. So let him not join issues with erring customs or agents .
“Why is he now trying to do customs work? is he the PRO of customs that will call for agents to be prosecuted . Why kicking against customs operations .”
“If Ogunojemite has claims to lay, he is not the one to call on CG customs to prosecute officers that have erred.”
Continuing, ge said “Modalities are on ground through government regulatory means on cargo clearance and if customs should apply or interprete the act on trade on freight forwarders you will understand that most agents will go to jail.
Recall that the APFFLON boss was quoted saying, , “there is no how a freight forwarder would shortchange the Government without working in cahoot with a releasing officer, especially in this era of automation, it is impossible.
“Therefore, freight forwarders and their importers are not supposed to bear the brunt alone, the releasing officers involved in the transgression should also have a taste of the soured pudding, it takes two to tango. In this case it will be quite unfair to punish Peter and spare Paul from a crime both of them committed”, Ogunojemite said
Similarly, Management of the Nigeria Customs Service had raised an alarm of serial infractions by importers clearing agents in the payment of duty on imported used vehicles also know as Tokunbo vehicles.
According to a Memorandum emanating from the office of the Assistant Comptroller General of Customs, Tariff and Trade, ACG Musa MBA dated 17th July 2023, a copy of which was sited by our correspondent, some of the clearing agents were discovered to have been shortchanging the Federal Government.