Group debunks report alleging customs extortion at port
By Eguono Odjegba
The Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Onne Chapter has described as false online media reports that officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Port Harcourt Area 11 Command Onne are in the habit of extorting clearing agents.
One Chapter Chairman, Mr. Mike Ebeatu who made the disclaimer in a statement faulted the report as untrue, misleading and does not represent the facts.
According to the chapter chairman, members of the association are not aware of such happenings, even as he said that the customs and clearing agents enjoy robust regulatory partnership which frowns at sharp practices that creates room for either giving or taking of bribes.
He said the association under his leadership equally do not condone any form of underhand practices that will encourage extortion, noting that the report is strange and misleading.
The statement reads: “I have been inundated by some media reports alleging that Nigeria Customs Service officers in Onne Port extort monies or demand bribes from licensed agents to exit consignments.
“As Chapter Chairman of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Onne Chapter, this is untrue to the best of our knowledge.
“While we constantly engage the customs for improved operational relationship, the association in Onne Port under my leadership frowns at any form of unlawful dealings like smuggling, under declaration, under valuation and concealment.
“Because our members are constantly sensitized to operate in compliance with the extant import and export prohibition lists, they have no reason to pay bribes either at the points of examination or at the exit gate.”
He continues: “We are aware that the giver and taker are liable by law and therefore distance ourselves from such things. Our confidence is rooted in our sincerity of purpose which has been passed to our importers too.
“For the umpteenth time, we once again urge the federal government to step up efforts at fixing our port access road from Port Harcourt through Eleme to Onne on time and create incentives to make the Onne and entire eastern ports attractive to importers and shippers.”
Ebeatu explained that while it is not his duty to defend or speak for the customs, he emphasized that members of his group are knowledgeable about the customs extant laws and owe it a duty to always comply with its provisions.
“Without attempting to hold brief for the NCS, any agent or freight forwarder who admits to paying bribe or allowing himself to be extorted is complicit. Our mantra as leaders of the Association is compliance, compliance, compliance.
“The Acting President on his 3-day working visit to the zone laid much emphasis on that at several fora. It is also on record that the compliance level at Onne port is unequivocally at the top. The facts are there.”