FREIGHT FORWARDERS MUST ABIDE BY IMPORT AND EXPORT REGULATIONS OF NIGERIA IN THE CUSTOMS PORTS AND APPROVED BORDER LOCATIONS SAYS NAGAFF

Victoria Hanson
The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders ( NAGAFF) has consistently advised and encouraged freight forwarding practitioners to abide by Standard Operating Conditions of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria  and with the act establishing the administration and management of Customs laws in relation to import and export of cargo across the international boundaries of Nigeria.

The Association directed that the statutory duty of regulatory agencies of the Government (i.e. SON. NAFDAC, Quarantine etc) must be respected and obeyed.

As experts in cargo management and administration across the international boundaries of Nigeria, they observed that   practitioners may have been in breach of Standard Operating Conditions as approved and signed into effect by CRFFN who has the mandate to regulate and control the profession of freight forwarding in Nigeria.
  NAGAFF emphasized that the Nigeria Customs Service has the mandate to collect, account and protect revenue due to the Government of Nigeria with regard to export, import and excise duty.   Other ancilliary functions according to the Association,  shall include but not limited to anti-smuggling functions, trade facilitation and provision of statistical data for trade policies.
NAGAFF however expressed their  worried that freight practitioners are seemingly resistant to changes on matters of Customs examination and obedience to rules of engagement.
“The necessity to abide by the statutory obligations of Standards Organisation, NAFDAC and other related services of the regulatory agencies of the Government cannot be overemphasized.  It is therefore very necessary and imperative that we develop the concept of best practices”.
To achieve these, the association said  they  must obey the rule of practice and take the responsibility to educate and enlighten our importers and exporters as it relates to import regulations and guidelines in relation to trade policies of the Government.
  Every importer of general goods and pharmaceutical products according to them must be made to subscribe to SONCAP rule and quality assurances of drugs and chemicals coming into our country in relation to SON and NAFDAC checks respectively.
In a statement made available to newsmen  the Association observed that The recent experience of 661 rifles seized by the Federal Operation Unit was a clear indication that non compliance to proper Customs examination is a major issue in our ports operation.  This is very dangerous to the well being of Nigerians and off course revenue due to the Government.
“However we have observed that the consequences of the seizure of 661
rifles by the Federal Operation Unit is not adding value to the essence of
trade facilitation in the Customs ports and approved border stations.  It
is apparent that proper Customs officers scheduled to conduct Customs
examination have thrown to the dustbin the need to apply discretional
powers in doing their jobs.  We can only but advise that officers should
not take to hardlines and or becoming overzealous in carrying out their
function.  The need to apply experience and discretion will not only
facilitate trade but seen to have facilitated trade.  The point herein is
to canvass that the greater numbers of the Nigerian importers are not to
be associated with arms importation.”
They also seized the opportunity to draw the attention of the management team of the Nigeria Customs Service to the relevant Sections of the Customs law with respect
to arrest and obstruction to the lawful duty of an officer. to include the following
Section 8    Customs Officers to have powers of Police officer
For the purpose of carrying out or enforcing the provisions of the Customs
and Excise laws, all officers shall have the same powers, authorities and
privileges as are given by law to Police officers. (Customs and Excise
Management Act Cap C45 LFN 2004)
Section 11 which contains    Obstruction of Officers  stated that
If any person :-
(a)    Obstructs, hinders, molests or assaults any person duly engaged in the
performance of any duty or the exercise of any power imposed or conferred
on him by the Customs and excise laws, or any person acting in his aid; or
(b)    Does anything which impedes or is intended to impede the carrying out
of any search for any thing liable to forfeiture under the Customs and
excise laws or the detention, seizure or removal of any such thing; or
(c)    Rescues, damages or destroys any thing so liable to forfeiture or does
anything intended to prevent the procuring or giving of evidence as to
whether or not any thing is so liable to forfeiture; or
(d)    Prevents the arrest of any person by a person duly engaged or acting
as aforesaid or rescues any person so arrested.
He shall be liable to a fine of one hundred thousand naira or to
imprisonment for two years, or to both.
“The question is at what point shall the management of the Nigeria Customs
Service apply these laws relating to obstruction of lawful duty of an
officer of the Service.  This is because instances of non provision of
tools to facilitate proper Customs examination by the terminal operators
is considered a hinderance/obstruction to the lawful duty of an officer,
which in deed manifested in the seizure of 661 rifles by the Federal
Operation.
 The innocent Customs officers who would have been enjoying
their liberty to freedom are now undergoing enquiry because the Customs
management failed to act and or apply the law to ensure that tools for
trade facilitation are provided”.
 they therefore urged every concerned persons or groups to join hands with the Government to realign the country to the wheel of progress and prosperity.
They made known that  Nigeria Customs needs the assistance of all critical stakeholders to succeed in the ongoing reform, restructure and enhanced revenue collection as directed by
Mr. President., even as they hinted That the regulatory agencies of the Government i.e. SON and NAFDAC also need all assistance to save lives of Nigerians.they said
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