The Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NATO) has called on the authorities, particularly the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to really look into the incessant cases of arrests of their trucks, drivers and truck boys, demanding explanations, clarifications and the rationale behind such harassments, arrest and detentions of their people by men and officers of the Nigeria Customs NCS, when by all means, they should not be the ones to be held responsible for the offence importers and their agents as truckers provide their motors as mere means of conveyance of the cargoes to importers warehouses.
While equally appealing for their release, they stated categorically that they only contracted to convey goods which they sometimes knew nothing about, but were rather helping importers and their agents to move their consignments to their various warehouses and destinations.
For them, they should not be seen or counted and offenders of contravener of government trade policies. ”Our transporters, drivers and their motor boys should not be seen as offenders.”
They equally argued that they should not be seen as connivers in the illicit business of cargo smuggling in any way rather theirs are only contractual agreements of moving consignments to owners’ warehouses and destinations, and by so doing, they have not and cannot contravene any law of the land.
This was what Comrade (Alhaji) Inuwa Mohammed Abdullahi meant when he queried Assistant Comptroller General (ACG) in charge of Western Zone ‘A’ of the NCS, ACG Aminu Dahir, at an event to mark one year anniversary celebration of Global Searchlight Magazine/lecture/honour held at the weekend in Ikeja Lagos.
Asking him further to explain the rationale behind the actions of his men against his people and mostly on cargoes that had scaled through various and rigorous checks and get out and were later impounded few steps outside the Port gates by men and officers of the agency.
According to the unionist, comrade Inuwa, while trying to know what the sins of the transporters were for providing means of conveyance of items that calls for customs attention.
He specifically threw the question in this form: ”Sir, so many of the trucks of our members (NATO) are being intercepted on the highways some meters away from the ports just by the men of the Federal Operations (FOU) And such things happen to the goods cleared from our ports, either the. drivers, the motor boys or their vehicles are seized. The drivers and motor boys who were sometimes not aware of the contents of what they were carrying. These things are done after proper examinations and clearance at the ports and they were duly given Terminal Delivery Oder (TDOs) and the vehicles move about 600 metres reduce away from the ports and they would be impounded.”
The NATO Tin Can Island vice chairman, who is known for his doggedness, commitment and fighting spirit, mostly for issues that concerns the welfare of his members, specifically questioned the ACG on what to do and how their seized vehicles would be released.
”So, sir, I don’t know what is our offence and again how to get our seized vehicles released. And that is affecting us as the number of our vehicle is depicting.”
Inuwa, who also called on the government to do everything within its power to fix the port access roads and more importantly the Apapa/Oshodi expressway, the gateway the nation’s economy, noted as well that this issue of indiscriminate harassments and detentions of his members and their trucks should stop.
The vice chairman of NATO (Inuwa) was among the numerous industry stakeholders honoured at event, as he was rewarded with Searchlight’s Leadership Award 2018.
While responding to the issues raised, the ACG who, noted that there are aspects of the Customs Excise and Management Acts (CEMA) that deals on such issues further added: ”You know, we go by section 159 of CEMA says, if any item be it car, ship or aircraft. Just the means of conveyance, is liable to seizure. However, but on our own issue here, even at headquarters, because I have been at headquarters for long what I know is that two attempts were made. Two, circulars were issued. One was saying that, if the means of conveyance is identified to have nothing to do with the importer or the owner of the goods, such vehicle should be released to the owner. But not without asking for it. So,.some area commands are applying that in reducing the level of…..”, the ACG said.
”There are two circulars, one says, if the means of conveyance is identified as not having nothing whatsoever to do with the importer or the owner of the goods, such a vehicle should be released to the owner.”
”Secondly, I know of another circular which said that apart from those other conditions given in the other circular that, if such a vehicle is identified as imported and properly cleared, such a vehicle is to be released to the owner. So, I don’t know on what ground any CAC should.”
Meanwhile, the convener of the lecture and the Publisher of Global Search Magazine, Lola Adesokan while welcoming her numerous guests at the event, said that day was so special to her and her journalism career, as it marks a milestone in her years in the pen pushing profession and served as an opportunity to cement her relationship with major key players in the maritime, oil and gas transport industry.
She informed her audience that the Searchlight Media Concept Limited was started the publication of Global Searchlight Magazine (Online) in 2014 while the company itself was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as a media outfit in 2015 and the first edition of the hardcopy of the magazine hit the newsstand in 2017.
Apart from celebrating one year anniversary of the publication, Adesokan said the decided to use the opportunity to honour some notable maritime industry players who have played notable roles in the sector in the recent years.
She added that she is used the platform to mark her birthday.
She said Global Searchlight Magazine is a brand that has come to stay and add value to the system.