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Freight agents demand immediate end to members’ harassment

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… denounce Taiwo Mustapha’s claim of being  instrumental to resolution of Onne  crisis .

Segun Oladipupo

The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and other freight forwarding groups at the Onne port have demanded immediate end to the  harassment and inhuman treatment of members by some units and officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

This is part of the resolutions reached at a meeting held by officials of the association with the hierarchy of the service in both chapters, last week.

In a press statement signed by Michael Ebeatu, Chairman ANLCA, Onne Seaport Chapter  and made available to our correspondent, the association also demanded immediate redeployment of the Customs Intelligence Unit (CIU) leader in the command.

The foremost customs brokers association in Nigeria also demanded end to indiscriminate and multiple alerts from Customs Headquarter, review of  multiple processing tables at FOT gate, reduction  and streamlining of these tables  in order to make job processing seamless and to encourage trade facilitation.

The demands also include; “All consignment cleared at Onne Port be only treated by FOU Akpajo check point and then escalated to other FOU check points in the Zone as having been treated.

“Harassments and Inhuman treatment of our members by some Units and  Officers of the Customs  be stopped immediately.

“That no individual or association should be victimized, unduly sanctioned or maltreated by any Unit of Customs as a result of the industrial action.

“That a waiting room and convenience be provided for our members at CPC.

“That re-examination at Gate should be stopped and all examination be concluded at examination bay.

“That PCA should be streamlined in a manner that once a Unit of PCA handles any job, no other is permitted to call for such job again.

At the meeting, the group solicited that a Technical, Implementation and compliance committee be set up to ensure the implementation of all agreement reached; review of the processes of operation with the aim of removing all forms of bottlenecks and set up a workable template that would guarantee trade facilitation and promote the ease of doing business.

The release stated that the parties, after long deliberation, agreed that the team leader revert with immediate effect to the already existing working arrangement and relationship before his coming to Onne.

“The CAC promised to work in synergy with the Customs Headquarters and his officers to reduce and streamline alerts.

The Comptroller called for attitudinal change in terms of  Agents  declarations, being the cause of most of these alerts.

“SENT TO WACT: have been abolished, only suspected or consignments with query would be blocked at WACT; FOU matters  to be treated with FOU Comptroller.

“The harassment and inhuman treatment of our members by some Officers and their team would not happen again. But members  are encouraged to register with their various Associations for proper identification.

“Whereby there is any form of harassment of any member again, such should be immediately reported to CAC, the Chairmen or any Senior Officer for immediate intervention.

“Assurance was given by the Area Controller  and his Officers, that no Association or individual would be victimized, unduly sanctioned or maltreated by any Unit of Customs because of the industrial action,among others.

Speaking on the persons that were instrumental to the resolution that led to the peace and end to the strike at the port, the chairman stated that Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha was only invited as a stakeholder by the Assistant Comptroller General of Customs.

“Meanwhile, the attention of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA),  Onne Seaport Chapter has  been drawn to  some social media publications crediting the resolution of the Onne Seaport Chapter crisis to one of the stakeholder and former member of  the ANLCA BOT, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha.

“Ordinarily, we wouldn’t like to join issues with the media , but to put the facts and records straight, hence  our necessary reaction. “We want to correct the misplacement of credit and the distortion of facts therein.

“It has become imperative to put it clearly that the Chapter leaders of all the players, comprising of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF),and the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders (AREFF), were led to the meeting by the National President of ANLCA, Hon. Tony Iju Nwabunike; the National Patron, Chief Henry Njoku; and the National Assistant Secretary, Chief Dennis Okwu.

“Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha was exclusively invited to the meeting as a stakeholder by the ACG. Please, this is for proper guidance. As we remain hopeful of the implementation of the  consensus reached and resumption of Operations, we appreciate the understanding and restraints which we have all shown so far in this challenging times.”

The two days meeting had in attendance, on the Customs side, ACG in -charge of Zone C, Customs Area Controllers of Port Harcourt Area 1 and Area II (Onne), other  senior Customs Officers from the various Customs Units in both Commands and formations  including, CIU, Strike Force and Border Drill.

On the stakeholders side, the ANLCA team was led by the National President , Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike, Patron, Chief Henry Njoku, National  Assistant Secretary, Chief Dennis Ugwu and the Chapter Executives of both Port Harcourt Area 1 and II of ANLCA.

Others were,  the leadership of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (ARFFN) and National Council of Managing Directors of Customs Licensed Agents (NCMDCLA).

© 2021, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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