Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has accused the maritime police under the Assistant Inspector General of Police for interfering with cargoes that are duly examined by customs.
Making the accusation during a courtesy call on the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, at the weekend, the Vice President of the association, Dr. Kayode Farinto, said the police are involved in the joint examination of the cargoes and later they will deny the cargoes of exiting the ports.
Farinto pleaded with Usman to intervene by bringing the anomaly to the notice of the Inspector General of Police (IGP). He also advised that both Ports Authority Police (PAP) and the Maritime Police be collapsed into one.
The Vice President also decried the non-implementation of the Ease of Doing Business (EODB), as envisaged by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
“ANLCA is capable and willing to assist NPA in enforcing the order, using its chapters’ structure.
“This inactivation of the EODB has made the ports home to several agencies that extort licensed customs agents, especially during cargo examination. This escalates cost of transactions, delays and sometimes totally obstructs cargo delivery processes, thereby compounding the operational challenges in the ports.
“A decision by a sub-committee of EODB constituted by NPA had issued directives stopping further examination of customs-released cargoes at the exit gate.
“Shipping companies and terminal operators continue to charge for services not rendered, especially when the fault comes from their inability to provide equipment or liaise with appropriate stakeholders to ameliorate situations that were not envisaged, during cargo clearance processes,” he said.
In her remarks, Usman requested that a formal letter be made to her office complaining about the maritime police interference with duly released cargo by issuing a “stop release/detention of containers” letter to the shipping companies and terminal operators.
“It is contemplated that security information should be shared with their colleagues in the ports who participate in examinations or, with other security agencies, rather than extort members, without any statistical data to show for their efforts in the past,” she said.
On the agencies approved to be present in the ports, Usman directed her Technical Assistant, Ikechukwu Onyemekara, to send the list of approved departments and agencies in the ports to all stakeholders, for their information and necessary action.
As for the multiple checkpoints and units of Customs performing multiple and re-examinations of already released cargoes in the ports, en route their warehouses/final destination, the MD/CEO of NPA lamented the inability of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and other approved MDAs, to key into the EODB executive order.
The inability of especially NCS, according to her, stems from the fact that Customs has written an official letter to Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) quoting relevant sections of extant laws on why the department cannot co-operate with Presidential PEBEC to implement the Executive Order on the EODB.