The crisis rocking the nation’s ports is far from over as the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) insists that it will go ahead to collect port operating fees at the ports.
All is not yet well with the country’s ports as Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has insisted that it will go ahead to collect the Ports Operating Fees (POF), popularly known as Ports Practising Fees. The Council said that since it is operating within its constitutional right as an agency of government, the fees collection will start at all ports in the country soon. Initially, the Ports Operating Fees (POF) ought to have commenced at the beginning of this month if not for the memo that emanated from the Office of the former Secretary General of the Federation (SGF), Senator Pius Anyim, which stopped all the activities of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) pending the constitution of a new board.
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. An official of the Council, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, yesterday, said that in spite of the rift surrounding the fees collection due to the memo from the Office of the former Secretary General of the Federation, which has destabilize port operations, it will go ahead with the fees collection. He said it would be a negligent of duty on the CRFFN part not to take advantage of its functions in the constitution that set it up as a government agency to regulate freight forwarding operation in the nation’s ports.
The source said that the Council has every right to do what is best for the maritime industry practitioners, adding that the fees are being used to build manpower development among legal practicising freight forwarders in the country. “We are not disturbed by the memo that was alleged to have emanated from the Office of the former Secretary General of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim, that we should stop all activities relating to the collection of Ports Operating Fees pending the constitution of a new board. We are not deter by the memo even we know it is causing uproar in the port.
We will surely go ahead with the fees collection because it is within our constitutional right and we have not breached any constitution,” the source said. Freight forwarders have been divided over the memo from the Office of the former Secretary General of the Federation (SGF), Senator Pius Anyim, while the former Transport Minister Senator Idris Umar claimed he was not aware of such memo. President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), 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 former 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.
Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has already ordered its members to stop the payment of the fees. President of ANLCA, Prince Olayiwora Shittu had told journalists 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.