Following the growing number of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the Country, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has called for the elimination of trade alerts from the various units of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on a transaction in order to avoid the impending explosion of this pandemic in the Country.
To achieve this, NAGAFF advised the NCS to review its standard operating condition by causing an action to invoke Sections 27, 28 and 29 of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) to deal with clearance of cargo out of Customs control this critical time of global pandemic.
Stating that Sections 27, 28 and 29 of CEMA deal with matters in relation to improper and/or incomplete documents for Customs purposes, the Association explained that the application of these Sections of the Customs law shall help minimise the contact between the officers and people who come to transact business with Customs.
NAGAFF in a press statement signed by its Head of Special Duty, Rev. Emma Agubanze, said this simply entails undertaking Customs examination with a view to ascertaining the actual content against the declaration made by the Freight Forwarding practitioners for Customs purposes.
“If this happens, the Freight Forwarding practitioners will be left to contend with the CAC office for the submission of application of incomplete documents, the examiner, valuation and exit gate controls officers. With this process, goods can leave Customs ports within 48 hours and indeed there shall be more revenue for the government of Nigeria.
“NAGAFF shall continue to contend that ‘laws are made for man and not man for the laws.’ Laws are made to enhance the society for the good of the greater numbers. Any law that seeks to undermine the welfare and wellbeing of the people and society is a bad law. We therefore urge the Minister of Finance and Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (CGC) to rely on Sections 4 and 5 of CEMA to cause an action to invoke Sections 27, 28 and 29 of CEMA to deal with clearance of cargo out of Customs control in this trying time of global pandemic.
“And for emphasis, it is on record that World Customs Organisation (WCO) has recently made good suggestions that will help Customs and other government agencies to enhance fast-track clearance of goods. We believe that in order to overcome the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic, there is the urgent need for effective collaboration, coordination and cooperation among public and private stakeholders at all levels to stem the fatality index of COVID-19,” the statement read in part.
Hoping that other regulatory agencies of the government should be able to deploy new approaches to contend with the emergency rules of COVID-19 fatality, NAGAFF implored the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to follow up goods cleared out of Customs control to the owners warehouses to conclude their statutory duties, if need be.
According to the Association, this process in reality shall afford these agencies the opportunity to meet with the rightful owners.
It called on the Freight Forwarding practitioners to put all hands on deck and henceforth, make honest declaration for Customs purposes to avoid delays in their transactions with government operatives at the Customs ports, while also reiterating its warning that to maintain safety practitioners should stay off the ports if they do not have engagement.
NAGAFF also advised the terminal operators and shipping companies to be professional in carrying out their service delivery because the laws must be upheld.
“Let it be re-emphasised other than the various propaganda of political third force and their likes that Coronavirus is real and fatal. We must assert and insist that the primary function or duty of a responsible government in accordance with the Nigerian Constitution is to ‘protect lives and properties’ of citizens of the Country. As it stands now, Coronavirus is a global fatigue sweeping across the globe with its fatality index. Therefore, we should follow all instructions from the government and World Health Organisation (WHO) to protect lives,” the statement read further.
It therefore, encouraged all to observe social distancing, personal hygiene and facemask protections while wishing NCS officers in the Western Operation currently receiving attention with regard to COVID-19 scourge a very quick recovery.
NAGAFF acknowledged and thanked the greater numbers of the officers and men of NCS, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Barr. Hassan Bello, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Usman, the Chairman, Governing Board of the CRFFN, Alhaji Abubakar Tsanni and the leadership of SON under Dr. Osita Aboloma, who are working round the clock to fight this pandemic in Nigeria.