Again, First Bank of Nigeria Plc (FBN) has landed in yet another trouble as the first generation bank is said to have been banned from further collection of customs duty by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Above development is reportedly on the orders of the House of Representatives Committee on Customs to the CBN to delist First Bank from further collection of import/export revenue owing to the bank’s alleged failure to remit over N100billion it collected on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, specifically on export proceeds for Nigerian Exports Promotion Council (NEPC).
According to a newspaper report not Pinnacle Time, the indication was given by a chieftain of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr Kayode Farinto, when he raised the alarm that clearing agents have been unable to clear cargoes from the port because customs would not accept duty payment on PAAR or Form ‘M’ opened with First Bank.
According to the report, Kayode who is a factional leader of the biggest customs brokerage group, ANLCA, was believed to have directed clearing agents and their clientele importers to backlist First Bank for now and stop opening Form ‘M’ with the troubled bank until further notice.
The fiery association leader has reportedly also threatened to drag FBN before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged financial fraud.
The report quoted him as saying “First Bank collected over N100billion on behalf of Federal Government of Nigeria on the issue of National Export Promotion Council, but the money was not remitted, the House Committee on Customs discovered this anomaly. “Unfortunately, they only wrote a letter to CBN to yank First Bank off the system. What they ought to have done is to let stakeholders know what was happening, so that anyone having a backlog of jobs can clear them and stop their Form M.
“This was the same thing that happened to GT Bank last year, but this time around, we are taking this matter before the EFCC.”
Highlighting the difficult position the bank’s alleged misdemeanuor has put importers and their agents, Kayode said,
“Clearing agents are currently stuck, they cannot clear their consignment, demurrage is accruing on cargoes at port. If you make your declaration, if it is Frst Bank PAAR or Form ‘M’, the job cannot proceed until the bank is reconnected back by CBN.
“So, for now, we are directing importers and their agents not to open Form’M’ with First Bank. We are on top of the situation appealing to the government to give us a little time to clear the backlog.”
Obviously unhappy about the development, he said, “First Bank should be ready for us this time around, we are dragging them before EFCC or ICPC, let it be established that a financial crime has been committed, so that going forward, we would not be having recurrence of such issue.
“Don’t forget that last year, GTB Bank did the same thing and went scot-free, nothing happened, no sanctions, is that a healthy situation in a country where we claim to be fighting corruption?”
Waxing purposeful and determined to lead a major campaign against the bank, he said,
“I share everybody’s pain, but they must not make any transactions in regards to import duty payment for now so that they would not be stucked”, he enthused.