- Alleges ulterior motive behind sudden, inconvenient fixture
Citing the Federal Government’s movement restriction across states over the Covid-19 pandemic, the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has called for the suspension of the public hearing on the amendment to the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) Act.
The public hearing by the House of Representatives Committee on Ports & Harbours is scheduled for today (May 12, 2020) in Abuja, but ANLCA is appealing for a rescheduling till a convenient time to enable relevant stakeholders attend, for the emergence of an acceptable maritime industry legislation.
In its letter of May 8, 2020 to the committee, ANLCA queried the rationale for fixing a public hearing on such important and all-inclusive amendment during such crisis period when almost everyone, including the stakeholders, have been incapacitated from attending.
Titled, “Re: Public Hearing on CRFFN Act Amendment Bill (NASS/9HR/CT.086/CRFFN/023),” the letter feared that stakeholders were being “unnecessarily hoodwinked with this hasty rush to achieve what ‘they’ have been unable to achieve by force, that is the POF,” while ignoring since inception Sections 4 & 6 of the extant Act 16 of 2007.
The letter, signed by the ANLCA Publicity Secretary, Joe Sanni, alleged conceit in the secrecy of the planned amendment and its suddenness, stating that “the CRFFN Act Amendment Bill, sponsored by Hon. Patrick Asadu on July 18, 2019, is not even made public yet and stakeholders do not know what amendments are being proposed.
“From the body language of some of the pushers of the amendment, it is all for pecuniary reasons and not to advance the course of the industry.
“Are the lawmakers aware that one of the association-members of CRFFN is currently embroiled in crisis of multi-dimensional and constitutional proportions with several cases in court? Are they aware of the multiple court cases against CRFFN and their implications on what the lawmakers intend to do by amending Act 16 of 2007?
Furthermore, ANLCA cited the lingering contentions over the terms, “customs brokers and freight forwarders” in CRFFN, noting that while the later is defined as “transporters/freighters of goods through various modes,” the former is “licensed corporates that transact/interface with the customs within customs environment on behalf of importers/exporters.”
ANLCA also rejected the joint regulation by two federal ministries – Finance and Transportation, as with the CRFFN Act, noting that “presently, the Nigeria Customs Service does not give licenses/permits to freight forwarders but only to corporate customs brokerage agencies.
“These and many more are expected to be presented before the lawmakers at the public hearing. Unfortunately, the airspace, inter-state borders and movements within Nigeria have been restricted. So, how do stakeholders come to Abuja to make presentations?
“To make the public hearing all-embracing, it will be advisable to put the hearing on hold till an auspicious time when all stakeholders can travel to Abuja to make their inputs for an acceptable amended CRFFN Bill.
“Anything short of this smacks of fraud, with an intention to railroad everyone into something that is bound to backfire in not too distant future.”