By Gboyega Oni
Genuine cargo declaration by customs agents and their principals – importers will end operations of Federal Operation Unit, Ikeja and Comptroller General Strike Force on highways.
Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), stated this in Lagos at a media round-table organised by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN), on Thursday April 19, 2018.
He said high level of non-compliance by customs agents and their principals – importers with cargo import guidelines is a major challenge that poses a threat to effective cargo delivery and customs administration in the country.
He counselled the Nigeria Customs Service to collaborate with the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) on making cargo declarant a certified person as against the system where corporate body is recognised by the Customs as declarant which, he said, encourages criminality in cargo documentation and declaration.
Aniebonam said if importers and customs agents make genuine declaration of cargo documents their watchword, the Federal Operation Unit (FOU) would be redundant and there would not be need for the Comptroller General of Customs setting up various intervention measures like Comptroller General Strike to curb smuggling.
He noted that most of the seizures recorded by the Federal Operation Unit Ikeja, Lagos ought to have been settled at the examination bay where there are eye-witness accounts on classification, valuation and other. But when all these are not done, he said, FOU comes in.
According to Aniebonam, who advocated for education and enlightenment of importers and customs agents on the imperative of genuine declaration, ‘genuine declaration by customs agents will end presence of FOU and CG Strike Force.’
The NAGAFF founder said that certified individual person should be recognised by the Customs as a declarant in cargo clearance processes instead of corporate body which breeds criminality, saying that the Customs and CRFFN must synergise on a person who can declare cargo.
‘There is a need for Customs to collaborate with CRFFN to know who is a declarant with his certified CRFFN number. A declarant must be a certified person. If we continue to use corporate body as declarant, criminality will continue,’ Aniebonam submitted.
Talking on why the collection of the Practitioner Operating Fee (POF) has become protracted for CRFFN, Aniebonam blamed the problem on greed and bad leaders in the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) over the sharing formula. He noted that if ANLCA had shelved off its greed and be magnanimous like NAGAFF, the collection would not have been settled since.