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Finance Ministry deliberately underfunding Customs- NAGAFF tells Jonathan



…Seeks for the sacking of Webb Fontaine

dr ngozi okonjo iweala

Boniface Aniebonam

The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has expressed strong concern with perceived, deliberate underfunding of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), and stressed the need, for partial autonomy of the Service, from the Federal Ministry of Finance.

dr ngozi okonjo iweala

dr ngozi okonjo iweala

Already, the group has dispatched a letter, ref: NAGAFF/HQ/01/F/101/36 dated August 5, 2014, to President Goodluck Jonathan, stressing the un-acceptability of underfunding of the Customs, if the revenue yielding platform should be expected to continue to facilitate trade, in addition to intensifying its security watch, on the nation’s borders.

DIKKO, COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF CUSTOMS“We have observed from our strategic point as critical stakeholders that at the moment, it is apparent that the Nigeria Customs Service is being under funded which may be currently affecting its operations and the freight forwarding business”, the group declared in its letter, signed by the NAGAFF founder, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, stressing that its understanding of the President Jonathan’s transformation agenda implies a genuine desire “to usher in development and prosperity to the Nigerian people”.

Highlighting that the body wrote in view of its role “as very critical stakeholders in the maritime transport, freight forwarding and Customs facilitation sector”, Dr. Aniebonam also advised President Jonathan to un-burden the Customs of the lack-luster performing Webb Fontaine, as its increasing equipment breakdown was already taking severe toll on Service delivery to the port users.

“The constant down time of the ASYCUDA System being handled and managed by Webb Fontaine most time slow down automation.  We suggest that the Nigeria Customs Service be allowed to build a robust system that can accommodate and resolve the problem of down time syndrome.  This is capital project which cannot be satisfactory handled with the current under-funding of the Nigeria Customs administration and management”,  he posited further, adding that the need for timely release of funds is underscored by the fact that the anti-smuggling officers were already facing tougher resistance daily, from smugglers who have sophisticated arms.

“Your Excellency, it is in the public domain that between 2010 and 2014 (up to July) the approved budget for the Service may be N378,974,132,999.80.

“Our checks revealed that Nigeria Customs Service may have just received N279,423,858,602.50 leaving a balance of N99,550,274,397.30.  We have observed that the morale of officers is very low because their entitlements are not being paid on time and most times, they are not attended to.

“It is a fact that the Nigeria Customs Service is a very critical Agency of the Government saddled with huge responsibilities which include but not limited to revenue collection, anti-smuggling functions, inter agency support service, business development and trade information services, post
audit function, provision of trade statistics and trade facilitation etc.

“Under the Destination Inspection Policy the Nigeria Customs Service has been given additional duty to manage and maintain scanners, capacity building in the area of training of officers and building super structures and other capital projects that will enhance and sustain its operations.

“We are concerned because its current problem of under-funding does not add value to our businesses in the Customs ports.  As Nigerians, we are equally worried because the Nigerian State is facing some security challenges.  We wish to remind your Excellency, that the anti-smuggling function of the service is strategic on matters of border security.

“It is no longer news that our borders are porous which is aiding the activities of criminal elements like the Boko Haram”, the group noted further, urging Jonathan to investigate why the Service, despite its strategic importance to the success of the transformation agenda, was still being underfunded.

“It is our view that the Nigeria Customs Service should be excised from Finance Ministry and granted partial autonomy because of the strategic nature of the agency.  The Nigeria Customs Service administration and management should be proactive and efficient to the glory of the Nigerian people and the economy.

“The way forward should include the much expected new Customs law pending at the National Assembly seeking to grant the Service partial autonomy”, the NAGAFF founder, concluded.


WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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