…Says the NAGAFF only works at ensuring things work properly***
The Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and National Chairman, New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP), Dr. Boniface Okechwuku Aniebonam has said that some maritime stakeholders probably do not understand what the compliance teamwork is all about in the port system.
Addressing a section of maritime media on the occasion of his birthday, Aniebonam remarked that, in actual fact, the Compliance Team is a tool of trade facilitation.
“I am just trying to say that Compliance Teamwork is still a tool of trade facilitation”, Dr. Aniebonam said, noting that the scanners and the Customs, the pre-arrival assessment metrics including compliance are similarly, tools of trade facilitation.
He explained that one doesn’t need to go to university to understand what is compliance.
“It’s a simple way for you to comply to regulations, standard operating conditions of what we ought to do in the port operations.
“Over time we have all seen that people are not complying to import regulations. The government has amended the Act in 2013 on what an importer should do, what freight forwarders should do, what the Nigerian Ports Authority should, What NIMASA and Nigeria Shipper’s Council should do, what exporters should do and other regulatory agencies of the government, Standard Organisations, NAFDAC, Customs and other stakeholders that have anything to do in the port.
“The position of the Freight forwarders are quite clear, they are catalysts, they are co-ordinating agents, they factor all processes and procedures, they make it possible for good and services to move from point of origin across international boundaries to final destination.
“The international boundaries we refer to has to do with Customs and port. In that port where the movement of cargo and services changes from sea to the land.”
And all that we are trying to do is to add value to the ongoing reforms of the government. One thing we all know is that the issue in Nigeria has to do with the implementation of government policies. One thing is to make law, another thing is to obey the law and enforce it.
In other words, we are going to do self-cleaning by way of education and enlightenment. The freight forwarders has the mandate to educate their importers and exporters on what they should do.
We must not forget that we are primary responsibility (1) to protect the investment of our clients.
“To a large extent, many of us have not been very happy by reason, being that some of the avoidable seizures have been made by agencies of the government. This is not the ideal.
“The Customs for instance has a very simple procedure for you to make an honest declaration for customs purpose.
The custom tool of trade facilitation, that is anti-smuggling operation to look at things that should come into the country and things that should not come into the country and that is the outcome of the physical examination done by the custom. It could be automated.
But, under destination inspection which is current policy trust as fast international trade is a concern is destination inspection and if you go to customs law there is nothing like destination inspection what you get is customs examination that is the freight forwarders placing on customs cargo that duely and marked by the customs and that will be done momentarily. In other words, the Single Entry Declarations form you should have been able to put into writing what you have before customs will go into physical examination.
“If we try to avoid some of these compliance law we are not adding value. The customs law is very expressive, for instance, if you look at sections 6, 46, 47, 161, 162 these sections are telling you on dealing with matters of single declarations.
When you don’t make true declarations for customs purposes the punishment is obvious, seizure of those consignments, prosecution of the offender most times, attracting 5 years imprisonment.
But in the regime we have now, we are at liberty to make that declaration; and so when people try to shy away from customs examination, they are not protective of the investment of the principal, because you will be infringing on section 46, 47 that dwells on the matter of untrue declarations. If you have involved your money, your money will be hanging.
“When an importer or exporter is no longer exporting or importing, the freight forwarders will not have any business to do, so it very important to make sure things are properly done.
“We all know that Security is an issue in this country today.
Those who thought there is any ulterior motives in the issue of compliance, they better understand that it is for the good of everybody that of the government and those that come to business at port of call. In doing so, we would have inculcated in us a peaceful environment.
“The summary is the situation on ground, the compliance in perspective is a tool of trade facilitation”, Aniebonam indicated pointing out that the NAGAFF had no evil intention towards any terminal operators including the Denca.
“The threat of the word compliant is that people are ignorant. Nobody takes law into their hands. The place you are talking about if I may tell you that Denca is my friend and my brother and I spoke to him on that very day.
“The bonded terminal they are running is our own bonded terminal, they are our colleagues. The effort is to make things work for all of us; and Denca is aware that something is wrong with the terminal. When you do good business it attracts people to come.
“The word picketing does not come in matter we are discussing and nobody has the right to do so.
“The compliant team has observatory status. We have two criteria to be in the port. We are licensed by the customs under section 153 and 156 as corporate body licensed by the customs, so, you as a representative of license issue by the customs.
“As a member of NAGAFF, as an organization duely accredited by the Council for Regulations of Freight Forwarding of Nigeria number 002 all members of NAGAFF are protected by the status as a freight forwarder in this country assigned by the Corporate Affairs Commission that registered NAGAFF as an organization. So access into the port is guaranteed by observatory status. That is where we come when we observe what is not proper. So, such organisations will be reported to appropriate quarters. I can assure you, those who are in breach of this would be reported to the appropriate persons. If it is customs, direct to CG. If it is the police, straight to AIG Maritime desk. If it is Standard Organisations official, straight to DG, SON; so also the NAFDAC.
“There is system collapse, and I am sure you know that Shipper’s Council has been doing everything possible to make the system work. Hassan Bello is the head of Shippers council there nothing he has not done to ensure this.
Look at the Nigerian Ports Authority, what about the call-up system. What is it that the woman has not done, does it work? To the extent that the Vice President was brought in to head the Special Taskforce on traffic. Maybe, when he raises the big step on the emergency, then everywhere will be okay. Perhaps, it will make people obey the law!”, he further indicated