THE Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) are currently on a collision course over the status of a declarant in the collection of the Practitioners Operations Fee (POF) expected to take-off by January 1, 2017.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, had recently, in a meeting with all the leadership of the five freight forwarding and licensed customs associations, and the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), approved the collection of the POF from January 1, 2017, with 65 per cent of the money collected going into the CRFFN account (out of which 25 per cent will be remitted into the Federal Governments’ Treasury Single Account (TSA) while the remaining 35 per cent will be given to a customs licensed company who is the declarant of cargoes on which the POF would be collected.
The National President of ANLCA, Olayiwola Shittu, who spoke exclusively with the Nigerian Tribune, stated that the Customs laws recognise only a customs license company as the declarant of cargoes.
According to him, “Have you tried to go and see the declarations that are being made for Customs purposes? If you see the declarations made for customs purposes, then you will know that a declarant is a licensed customs company.
“The declarant is a licensed company that makes the declarations for Customs purposes; and without Customs clearance, there cannot be any cargo processes within the ports.
“The declarant is never an individual. The declarant is the company that is licensed by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).
“When Customs releases any cargo at the ports, shipping companies release cargoes to the declarant; terminal operators release cargoes to the declarant, they all don’t release cargoes to an individual.”
The Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr Boniface Aniebonam, while speaking to newsmen had kicked against the decision, saying that a licensed customs agency cannot be classified as a declarant.
He said the voting that held at the meeting was null and void because those who participated in the voting have shown that they lack knowledge. Aniebonam said that NAGAFF would go back to court with CRFFN and that it has already called its lawyer to go and restate the case against the Council and challenge the control of the transport ministry on the Council.
“A declarant is an individual whose name is in the register of freight forwarders, I have said severally that corporate entities cannot hear, cannot talk, and cannot undergo professional examinations. They are always assisted through a representative who is an individual.