Story By Roland Ekama.
Placard carrying members of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), yesterday protested the commencement of the collection of the Practitioners’ Operating Fee (POF) by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), even as they described the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi's directive as tyrannical and unacceptable display of impunity.
The peaceful protest held at Lagos ports saw the agents displaying various placards with inscriptions like: "AMAECHI MUST RESPECT THE JUDICIARY AND COURTS OF THE LAND", "AMAECHI STOP IMPUNITY", "WE WILL NEVER PAY POF", "CRFFN IS A FAILURE", "POF IS NOT BACKED BY LAW", "POF IS GOING INTO AMAECHI's POCKET", AMAECHI IS A TYRANT", etc.
The protest which began from the ANLCA Secretariat at the National area of Tincan port, took them to the offices of the Nigeria Customs Service as well as all the terminals at seaport.
Speaking to journalists during the protest, the Special Assistant to the ANLCA Chairman on Revenue, Mr. Akande Balogun said that the association was bent to resist the collection of the POF.
Akande said they embarked on the protest to sensitize their members not to pay the POF which was to commence on the 1st of August, 2017.
Balogun stated that the association will ensure that only a well constituted Governing Council of CRFFN have the power to determine fees to be collected by council and not the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi or the Registrar of CRFFN, Sir Mike Jukwe.
He noted that the collection which was supposed to commence on August 1, 2017 was postponed to commence today since nobody was ready to pay, which informed their decision to embark on the protest to sensitize their members on the need not to pay the fee.
According to him, “ ANLCA has gone to court, Lucky Amiwero’s faction of National Council of Managing Directors has gone to court saying that all these things are act of illegality. Despite that, Amaechi issued instruction sometime last month that they should start collecting the money. We are now telling him, you are the Minister but you have no legal right to impose illegality on us because we know our right and his impunity will not stand. Amaechi is displaying total disregard to legitimate court processes, an insult to judiciary.
“We told them, this money, you cannot collect it without the Board, it is only the Board who can approve the collection of this money. But now, there is no Board, only Amaechi and Jukwe, the CRFFN Registrar that now took the decision and they impressed it on the registrar that he can use his power to collect. This is tyranny, corruption and impunity.
“The terminal operators, they are businessmen, government is now asking them to add the money to the terminal charges, we may refuse to go and do business with them, then, government will hear”.
“We will use massive resistance, we are not going to yield, we will not pay. We will shut down the ports, then when people did not pay, they will call us and we will sit down and talk. We will withdraw our services because we as clearing agents, if we don’t pay, government will not have money", he added.