…As Lagosians Groan as Fuel Turns ‘Gold’, Sells for N350 Per Litre, N600 in Black Market
Freight forwarders weekend condemned the letter issued last week from the office of the Secretary General of the Federation (SGF) stopping all the activities of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) pending the constitution of a new board.
The memo appeared to have also affected the collection of Ports Operating Fees (POF), popularly known as Ports Practising Fees and being introduced by the CRFFN.
The collection of the fee was expected to begin fully today in all the ports in the country and border stations.
The memo which was issued by the office of the Secretary to the Federal Government, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim said no staff of the Council has the right to carry out any function without the Board of the Council.
The memo was issued based on the petition sent to the government by the factional President of National Council for Managing Directors of Customs Agents (NCMDCA), Mr Lucky Amiwero, who is also the Managing Director of Eyis Resources Limited.
But the President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NASGAFF), Dr. Eugene Nweke described the directive as an abuse of office and administrative procedure.
Nweke said that the official who signed the letter should be jailed for such directive.
He argued that the SFG failed to consider the fact that CRFFN was established under the Act of the National Assembly.
He also said that the office of the SFG ought to have consulted very well before issuing such a memo, adding that not even the Ministry of Transport was approached on the development.
Similarly, other leaders said that SFG should have sought clarifications from the Transport Minister, Senator Idris Umar since CRFFN is under him.
One of the freight forwarders who did not want to be quoted queried: does the SFG have such unilatateral power to act the way he did?.
Officials of the NCRFFN who pleaded anonymity said that what is surprising is that the office of the SFG acted on the basis of a petition from somebody who is not a member of the council, adding that the petitioner does no have the locus standi for his action against the CRTFFN.
He described Eyis Resources as not a registered freight forwarder.
It was gathered that some top officials of the Ministry of Transport and CRFFN told the leaders of freight forwarding associations to disregard the letter, insisting that it lacks relevance.
The officials said that what Amiwero did was misinformation.
Meanwhile, NAGAFF and other three associations have described the action of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) whose members stopped the collection of the fees in Seme as unfortunate.
The associations at press conference last week said they will move against ANLCA, adding that for now, the association was simply playing to the gallery.
The associations will also meet today.
Officials of ANLCA had Wednesday mobilized its members and allegedly thugs to stop the collection of practicing fees from freight forwarders at the Seme Border Station about three hours after the exercise had commenced.
President of ANLCA, Prince Olayiwora Shittu had told SHIPPING DAY that a Committee made up of the former President of the association, Sir Ernest Elochukwu, the National Publicity Secretary of ANLCA, Kayode Farinto and others has been set up to come up with a recommendation on the issue.
Shittu gave an indication that the Committee would report to the NEC which will take final decision on the matter.
The ANLCA President said that the matter has gone beyond his personal decision alone. But it appeared that Shittu is not happy about the sharing arrangement on the collection of the practicing fees.
Incidentally, it is not clear when ANLCA would hold its NEC meeting to decide on the issue, and how long the Elochukwu Committee was given to carry out its assignment.
Meanwhile, business and social activities in Lagos came to a halt weekend following the continued scarcity of fuel in the city.
It was so bad that many Lagosians were full of lamentations about the hardship they have been going through in the past one week that the crisis worsened.
Some filling stations that had fuel sold a litre for N350,000.
It was a boom for black marketers who were selling fuel at N600 per litre after buying from filling stations under arrangement with the petrol attendants.
The situation forced many people who had social engagements to stay indoors.
The current crisis is attributed to the industrial action declared by the tanker drivers who are apparently protesting the order given to them by the Lagos State Government to move their tankers away from the Apapa port area that they have colonized for long now making life miserable for many residents, port users and other workers.
The other problem is the disagreement between the Finance Minister, Dr Mrs Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and the marketers on the actual amount they are being owed.
While the marketers claimed what is outstanding after the initial payment of N154bn is N200bn, the Finance Minister said government is only owing them N131bn.