CREFFPON CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE DISMISSAL OF TRIGGER-HAPPY OFFICER
By Mcanthony ONUOHA
Following the sad incident that occurred recently at PTML,Mile 2 ,Terminal, where a Customs officer attached to the Federal Operations Unit(FOU), Auto Wharf/Mile 2 Check Point, shot a Clearing Agent in the leg, Congregation of Freight Forwarding Practitioners of Nigeria (CREFFPON), has demanded immediate dismissal of the erring officer from Nigeria. Customs Service.
The officer was said to have shot at the clearing agent on the flimsy excuse of attempting to drive off without paying the “officer on duty” settlement.
It is on this premise that the Congregation of Registered Freight Forwarding Practitioners of Nigeria (CREFFPON),in a press statement signed and issued the media by the group’s Amin, Comrade Edwin Chukwudire Obi, states as follows:
That after a careful finding and review of the incident, that the Customs Officer who carried out the shooting be fished out for subsequent dismissal from the Customs Service, and be prosecuted for attempted murder.
The group also insists that the Customs Management, carry out proper periodic training and retraining of its Officers, for them understand and grasp the workings of the service, especially the pros and cons of the Anti- Smuggling Operations.
Furthermore, the Maritime advocacy group posits that there is a great difference between a Freight Forwarder carrying out his/her daily professional Service within the Customs Ports Corridor (less than 20 kilometers from the port access road), and a die-hard smuggler who ply the unapproved routes to carry out his/her illegal enterprise.
CREFFPON says that “the shooting and harassments of innocent and unarmed freight Forwarders, who are neither smugglers nor found within or along the smuggling/unapproved routes, for a flimsy excuse of not settling Customs Officers on duty, are becoming rampant and must be roundly condemned.”
The Movement cited the brutal killing of Former Vice Chairman of NAGAFF, Idi-Iroko Chapter, Chief Anayo Chinedu, in 2013, for stopping his car to mediate between the FOU Officers and a bus driver who had argument with the officers at a check point.
The group said that it was on record that the Nigeria Customs framed the deseased up as a suspected smuggler to cover up their dastardly act. But the report of the incident is documented with the International Human Rights Organization, while NAGAFF has since buried its own after series of protests.
CREFFPON, totally condemns the heightened extortions and undue harassments of Freight Forwarders by FOU Officers.
Continuing, CREFFPON stated that” before now, the FOU and all Customs Area Commands had enjoyed reasonable peace and tranquility, and trade facilitation achieved smoothly. But that is not the same setting presently, as things have gone almost irredeemably bad, and trade facilitation serially obstructed by the FOU Unit of the Nigeria Customs.”
The Maritime Advocacy group further stated that, “it has long observed incessant interception of exited goods along ports corridors, and advised that verification of documents and inspection of exited goods be better coordinated in a manner that will not obstruct trade facilitation ,and rather called for the deployment of S.M.A.R.T application devoid of internal parochialism, and administrative rancor between the Area Commands and external Customs Units.”
” We make bold to reemphasize that the setting up of Customs Task Force in any disguise or form is a deliberate act of usurping the official duties of the line officers, whereas the Customs Management lacks the administrative willpower to effectively supervise the progress of its Officers and penalize ailing ones for unethical and underhand practices in cargo documentation and handling.
” It is of utmost importance for Customs Enforcement Officers to treat the Freight Forwarders, not just as partners in the revenue generation, but with dignity and respect for human life. Also, acts capable of promoting undue provocation that could result to industry unrest must be avoided at all times. The application of rules of engagement and professionalism in the practice is the approach to resolving all trade related disputes and not unbridled militancy.”
” As such, we cannot overemphasize the need to strengthen the symbiotic relationships that hitherto had existed between the men and Officers of the service and the freight Forwarders. It is never possible to wish away the professional truth that , “a Customs Officer and a Customs Licensed agent are two sides of a coin”, the group stated.