By Bayo Bernard
Registrar and chief executive officer of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria, Sir Mike Jukwe will be shocked over latest revelation of allege gross mismanagement of funds belonging to the Council. A group, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA has alleged that the council under the watchful eyes of the council boss mismanage over N3 billion, being funds allocated to the CRFFN by the federal government in the last two years.
The Association has therefore demanded a probe of the finances of the council since Jukwe took over as CRFFN boss.
The allegation was raised by the National Publicity Secretary of ANLCA, Kayode Farinto at a press briefing with the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria, MARAN. Farinto disclosed that the Council had received from the federal government over N3 billion as budgetary allocations in 2015 and 2016 with nothing to show for it.
He said N700 million was allocated to CRFFN in the 2015 budget while the council also got N2,5 billion the following year. In spite if this, ANLCA spokesman said Jukwe has failed to account for the funds. Farinto disclosed that Jukwe has been running the council like his personal estate.
Jukwe has however debunked the fraud allegation. His response was contained in a text message to the magazine, in which he claimed that ANLCA has embarked on desperate measure to frustrate the collection of POF. The allegation” is a blatant lie” whether it likes it or not “ANLCA would obey the ministerial directive to pay POF,” Jukwe affirmed, warning ANLCA to stop playing politics with the issue.
The Association alongside, National Council of Managing Directors of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents had on Monday August 7 embarked on a protest to stop CRFFN from going ahead with the collection.
ANLCA attack on CRFFN came on the heels of recent directive by the Minister if Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi to the council to go ahead with the collection of Practitioner Operating Fee, POF despite strong opposition from the dominant ANLCA. Last week the minister, in a memo signed by the ministry permanent secretary directed the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA and other requisite government agencies in the ports to collect the fee on behalf of CRFFN.
“The minister of transportation had approved that collection of POF commencing from August 1st 2017, by CRFFN,” the permanent secretary MOT one S. Zakari disclosed in a statement last week.
But Farinto said the directive cannot stand in the face of prevailing circumstances. He said ANLCA has already filed a suit in the court to stop the collection.
ANLCA major grouse is that the council is not properly constituted. Farinto said any action taken by Jukwe without a properly elected new board is deemed illegal. Apart from this, the ANLCA spokesman said the act is also against the new policy of Ease of Doing Business in the country, recently signed by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
The agents are already overwhelmed by retinue of charges they are made to pay before they can clear goods at airports and seaports across the country. Therefore, the collection of POF is not in the interest of ANLCA as the act is capable of further pushing customs agents out of business, Farinto said.