Corruption at ports :
Compliance team raises alarm
…Says no campaign of calumny will derail its anti-corruption crusade at ports
The National Coordinator of the 100 percent Compliance team of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, has reiterated the unbending resolve and determination of the team to pursue the war against illicit trade practices among service providers and freight forwarders in the maritime industry until the menace is decapitated.
Alhaji Tanko gave this reassurance in Lagos while reacting to one of the series of unwarranted attacks and campaigns of calumny being sponsored against him and his team by people he referred to as doubtful characters.
The group had asked NAGAFF, the parent body of the anti-corruption crusade unit, to call the coordinator of the 100 percent Compliance team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, and his members to order, following the petition the freight forwarding anti-graft unit wrote to the new Comptroller General of Customs, Wale Adeniyi on the nefarious activities of bonded terminals operators.
In the petition, the NAGAFF Compliance team exposed illicit operations of bonded terminal operators on sabotage of Customs trade facilitation and revenue generation mandate of Nigeria Customs Service, security breaches, and economic crimes.
However, the group has accused the NAGAFF compliance team of not addressing the common issues confronting freight forwarders, adding that they expected Alhaji Ibrahim and his team to come out and condemn unfriendly policies of the government, such as consistent increase in Customs exchange rate from $422 to $581 and now $770 in less than one month, which has led to job losses in the industry.
The group also wanted the compliance team to come out and condemn the high-handedness and gross impunity of some Customs Officers, who by exploitative demands create bottlenecks to hamper trade facilitation, rather than using consistent blackmail, baseless and unfounded allegations against indigenous Bonded Terminal Operators and relevant stakeholders for obvious selfish reasons.
In his reaction to the claims of the faceless group, Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim said that he was well prepared for the assignment of preaching the ideals of fair trade practices among stakeholders in the industry and was well aware of the danger inherent in being an anti-corruption crusader, as corruption will always fight back.
On the consistent increase in Customs exchange rate from $422 to $581 and now $770 in less than one month, Alhaji Ibrahim said the policy is outside the control of the Customs but formulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Ministry of Finance, which he said the Customs is mandated to implement.
As for condemning malpractices in the industry, the NAGAFF chieftain maintained that his continuous and endless battle with agencies of government in the maritime industry, especially the Nigeria Customs Service, Police, NDLEA, SON, NAFDAC regarding the welfare of freight forwarders and the maritime industry, in general, is evident for all to see and this is verifiable.
“Our fight for justice is unending and fact has shown it, neither will it stop.
It is obvious that those who are crying wolves where there is none are complicit in the unwholesome practices going on in bonded terminals of which they are the beneficiaries.
“The rantings, uncoordinated claims, and allegations of this anonymous group clearly showed they were poorly briefed by their sponsors and paymasters, who are no longer comfortable with our ceaseless searchlight on their illicit operations and practices.”
However, Alhaji Tanko declared that the attack by the anonymous group was a demonstration of its members’ support for illicit activities going on in these bonded terminals for which the NAGAFF 100 percent Compliance team has exposed.
Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko has therefore vowed that no amount of intimidation, cheap blackmail, or assassination of character will deter him and his team in their crusade against sharp practices in the industry.
He vowed that his team remains focused to ensure that all stakeholders play by the rules and perpetrators of illicit practices are brought to book.
“He, who goes to equity must go with clean hands. I, therefore, challenge any member of this motley group to come up with verifiable evidence to back up their unconscionable claims and allegations against me. For clear conscience fears no accusation” he stated.”
Alhaji Ibrahim said that he would have chosen to ignore the unverifiable allegations of the faceless group but the urge to set the record straight for posterity’s sake was too strong to resist.