The Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Onne Seaport Chapter, has debunked reports in the media accusing the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) of extortion in the port.
In a statement signed by its chairman, Mike Ebeatu, yesterday, the association said the allegation that Customs officers extort monies or demand bribes from licenced agents to exit consignments is untrue to the best of his knowledge.
The chapter chairman stated that the association constantly engages Customs for improved operational relationship, adding that his leadership frowns at any form of unlawful dealings like smuggling, under declaration, under valuation and concealment.
According to him, members are constantly sensitised to operate in compliance with the extant import and export prohibition lists and have no reason to pay bribes either at the points of examination or at the exit gate.
Ebeatu, who noted that the the giver and taker of bribe are both liable by law, distanced ANLCA from the report, stating that its confidence is rooted in its sincerity of purpose which has been passed to importers.
“Without attempting to hold brief for the NCS, any agent or freight forwarder who admits to paying bribe or allowing himself to be extorted is complicit.
“Our mantra as leaders of the Association is compliance, compliance, compliance. And the Acting President on his 3 day working visit to the zone laid much emphasis on that at several fora. It is also on record that the compliance level at Onne port is unequivocally at the top. The facts are there”, he said. Ebeatu also urged the Federal Government to step up efforts at fixing the port access road from Port Harcourt through Eleme to Onne on time and create incentives to make the Onne and entire eastern ports attractive to importers and shippers.