The Registrar, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Sir Mike Jukwe, has kicked against Customs Representative provision in the draft Bill of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) amendment.
He said this was inconsistent with the CRFFN Act No. 16 of 2007.
Jukwe, who stated this in his submission at the public hearing on the draft amendment to the CEMA organized by the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariffs at Abuja on Monday.
He argued that if those provisions in the draft Bill were not amended as per the attached submission, it would infringe on the rights of nearly 10,000 Nigerian freight forwarders of which over 2,000 were already on the Register of Freight Forwarders.
He added that going by the provisions in the draft Bill, the nearly 10,000 freight forwarders in Nigeria would be denied their source of livelihood, which negative effect on the Nigerian security and economy would be better imagined as it might be disastrous.
“The situation in freight forwarding became so chaotic and uncoordinated that the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) was established by the CRFFN Act 16 of 2007 and charged with the responsibility, amongst others, to determine the standard of knowledge and skill to be attained by persons seeking to be registered freight forwarders as well as to regulate and control freight forwarding in its entire ramification in Nigeria.
“We wish to draw your attention to Sections 19(1) and (2) of the CRFFN Act No. 16 of 2007 which has clearly spelt out the responsibility of CRFFN in registering freight forwarders before the Nigeria Customs Service can license Customs Agents also known as Customs Brokers in other countries and addressed as customs representatives/agents in the draft Bill.
“Section 28(2) of the CRFFN Act 16 of 2007 has made it unlawful for any individual or corporate body to practice the freight forwarding profession in any of the specialized areas without the CRFFN registration certificate. It is therefore pertinent to note that you must first be a freight forwarder before specializing in any aspect of the freight forwarding profession, such as Customs Agency/Brokerage, Cargo Consolidation and Haulage, to mention but a few.
Jukwe went on, “Freight forwarding is indeed an international business involving the movement of international traded goods from the point of origin to the point of final destination including the associated formalities, such as customs and all port clearance.
“Section 2 of the CRFFN Act (Registration of Freight Forwarders)Regulations, 2010 contained in the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No. 48 has clearly spelt out those specialized areas of the freight forwarding profession and the requirements for registration as a freight forwarder. Copies of the CRFFN Act No. 16 of 2007 and the Federal Republic of Nigeria official Gazette No. 48 are attached.
“Having reviewed the provisions in the draft Bill as it relates to the Customs Representative, as a segment of Freight Forwarding, we have come to the conclusion that those in the draft Bill are inconsistent with those in the existing CRFFN Act No. 16 of 2007”.
The Registrar maintained that CRFFN was not only the regulator of freight forwarding but also the umbrella body and the voice of freight forwarders in Nigeria adding that the membership of the Governing Board of the Customs was incomplete without the inclusion of a representative of the CRFFN.
“The membership of the board is incomplete without the inclusion of a representative of CRFFN. This is imperative especially when we put into consideration the fact that the complimentary role of CRFFN is needed for customs to record any success. This was reinforced in S.2 (1) (F) of the CRFFN Act 2007.