07 November 2013, Lagos – A freight forwarder and Managing Director of Shibab Services Ltd, Babatunde Shittu, has said that importers, agents, Customs officers and other government operatives are involved in corrupt activities in the ports.
Shittu explained that it is true that agents are the ones that are normally on the receiving side as they are considered to be notorious and responsible for driving corruption at the port.
According to him, “They are all partners in business because the agents cannot do it alone. The importers cannot do it alone, also the agents cannot do it alone;
they have to consult the Customs who have the power of final release of the consignment from the ports. Looking well at it, it is a joint effort of every one of them; they are in business together.”
He noted that agents alone cannot be said to be dubious because the agent is working for someone.
In his words “agents alone cannot be said to be dubious because the agent is working for someone. Most of the importers are more dubious than the agents because the agents dance to their tune.
“Some importers bring in consignments, de-value the invoice and then want the agent to work with that invoice. The importer already wants to cheat the government in duty and at the end of the day, the agent is only a tool in the hands of the importer. Nobody will see the importer; they only see the middleman that is running around, that is the agent.
“For instance, an importer gives me a job worth N100,000.00 but says no he can only pay N50,000.00. Knowing fully well that N50,000.00 cannot cover the job, some agents will jump into it and collect the money. They collects N50,000.00 first but after a while, they comes back and tells you that the money is not enough. You will be forced to give him because you do not want your cargo to remain there.”
Shittu pointed out that some importers, who have done the valuation already want to use the agents to bribe the Customs and to bribe their way to get their job out of the ports. He also noted that the agents are not at fault but the importers as well.
He called on the relevant government agencies to work at incorporating all the sectors in the industry, in the ongoing reforms if it most be successful.
He also charged leaders of the various associations of agents to work with the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwardering in Nigeria (CRFFN) to change the fortune of agents.
– Godfrey Bivbere, Vanguard