By Oluyinka Onigbinde
The Chairman Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANCLA) Prince Olayiwola Shittu has reacted to the acting president’s order on resumption of 24-hour operation at the port.
Shittu in an exclusive chat with Nigerian NewsDirect said 24-hour port operation can only be feasible if government agencies at the port will cooperate with the change mantra of the federal government by stopping all forms of extortion and illegal fees being collected at the port.
According to him “the 24-hour port operation is flexible if the government has the political will, to do so
“We talked about the one- stop- shop, as a way to ease means of doing business but my fear is the agencies themselves if they fail to adhere to the order it will be difficult.
“The government talks about sanction we need to be sure that these people will be sanction, and how they will sanction.
Shittu who was furious by the way and manner in which government agencies extorts money from agents informed that of recent one of the licensed customs agents who went to collect a debit note for his container was told that it was blocked by the maritime police, and needed to pay N150,000 for no reason.
According to the message sent to the ANCLA boss by the agent who was extorted by the maritime police, and forwarded to our correspondent reads;
”Last Friday I went to MSC to collect a debit note for my container I was told that it was blocked by the maritime police.
“And that I should go and get clearance from force head quarters annex for no cogent reasons, the so called police was demanding N150, 000 which I felt bad about
“Please something needs to be done, if there is information to a container they should wait and ask for joint examination rather than asking for clearance”.
Shittu however called on the government to do the needful and bring all culprits who extorts money at the sea port to book.
You will recall that Prof. Osinbajo had on Thursday signed 3 Executive Orders dealing with the business environment, local content in public procurement and timely budget submission
The Acting President said in the Order that, “the Apapa Port shall resume 24-hour operations within 30 days of the issuance and there shall be no touting whatsoever by officials or unofficial persons at any port in Nigeria.’’
According to the directive on port operations, “On duty staff shall be properly identified by uniform and official cards while off duty staff shall stay away from the ports except with the express approval of the agency head.”
He directed the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to enforce the Order.
According to the Order, “Any official caught soliciting or receiving bribes from passengers or other port users shall be subject to immediate removal from post and disciplined as well as (face) criminal proceedings in line with extant laws and regulations.’’
On the harmonization of activities of agencies operating at the ports, Prof. Osinbajo ordered that “all agencies currently physically present in Nigerian ports shall within 60 days harmonise their operations into one single interface station domiciled in one location in the port and implemented by a single joint task force at all times, without prejudice to necessary backend procedures.’’
The new single interface station at each port, the Order stipulates, “shall capture, track and record information on all goods arriving and departing from Nigeria and remit captured information to the head of the MDA and the head of the National Bureau of Statistics on a weekly basis.’’
In addition, the Acting President, through the Executive Order, has directed each port in Nigeria to assign an existing export terminal to be dedicated to the exportation of agriculture produce within 30 days of the issuance of the Order.