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Wharf war:  Controversy over alleged N100m settlement

Comptroller-General-Nigeria-Customs-Service-Col-Hameed-Ali-Rtd

By Oluyinka Onigbinde

The plan to embark on indefinite industrial action by National Association of Government Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and the Association of Licensed Customs Agent (ANCLA) have suffered a setback following controversy over alleged dolling out of N50 million each to these associations as a result of the 21 days ultimatum on threat of industrial action.

According to a source at the sea ports which stated that, following the 21-day ultimatum targeted at the strike by National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), and the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) over collection of shipping line agency charges, which they described as illegal, and issues bordering on arbitrary charges being collected by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Police and other agencies of government at the ports, Colonel Ali, summoned a meeting during which he allegedly pleaded with the enraged forwarders to lay down their arms.

Stakeholders in the industry have described the threat by NAGAFF and ANCLA as a phony  threat that do not carry weight after the expiration of 21-day clampdown to halt service of members if the infractions were not resolved.

The impeccable  source, who craved anonymity at the ports, over the weekend  said the planned strike  was allegedly quashed  as a result of  an alleged N50 million settlements  to both associations to silence them and keep them from going ahead.

He described the threat by both associations as a deceptive syndrome and an attention seeking act, in order for them to have their own alleged share and settlement from Customs.

According to him “when associations like this cry we know what they want, they are attention seeking associations looking for where to eat.

“How many of their threat strikes have they embarked upon . As soon as they get settled they keep their mouths shut, so I wonder why they chose to make themselves toothless  bulldogs by saying something without force and expect you to  believe it.

“The government knows how to play around with them and get things done their own way, so I was  not moved after the 21-day ultimatum came to an end and we didn’t hear or  see anything thing forthcoming

“It shows that all what they are seeking is money and now that they have it they are nowhere to make any more noise.

However in a swift reaction, the public relations officer of the Nigerian Customs, Mr. Joseph Attah, has described this as a blatant lie when confronted with the issue  by our correspondent.

Mr. Attah, who wanted to know  why  Customs would do that, said, “ that’s not true, and Customs is not contemplating on doing such, and in any case when you check  several reasons given by  them only one or two have to do with Customs so why would Customs do that.”

“So if anybody wants to fabricate anything it should be something that makes sense. Customs has not done that and they are not contemplating on doing such.”

He informed that the best the agency can do as a service is to continue to improve on the  services in such a way that no stakeholder would  have any reasons to complain.

NAGAFF’s public relations officer,  Mr. Stanley Ezenga,  also, refuted the bribery allegation,  while saying  that the Customs neither bribed them nor  clamped  down on the said strike.

He described the assertion as false and unfounded.

According to him “it’s not true that we are no longer going on strike, as a matter of fact we are mobilizing our members and informing them of the necessary information. We have given a 21-day ultimatum, so we don’t need to give any other ultimatum so when it’s time we do a press briefing. To inform the press” he said.

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