The Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) has petitioned the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo over alleged corrupt practices and what it termed massive illegalities at the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
The group in a petition, dated 9 September and signed by its President, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, accused the Registrar of CRFFN, Barr Sam Nwakohu of fraud and appealed to the minister to make public the report of the committee set up by his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi to investigate the Registrar over financial misappropriation in the council.
Ogunojemite said while the CRFFN Act recognizes three categories of membership-associations, corporate bodies and individuals, officials of the Transport Ministry and the CRFFN have over the years, only recognized, visited and engaged CRFFN so called registered associations without any provision for individual members and corporate bodies.
“It has become worrisome that all CRFFN functions and programs have seen the Council only invite freight forwarding associations, hence, leaving individuals and companies out of the crucial deliberations that affect all categories of membership.
“The above act of the Council compelled APFFLON to lend their voice to the outcry that saw the intervention of the Transportation Ministry which prevented the former monopolistic sharing formula of 6-6-1-1-1 of the board member of the council in the recent Governing Council elections proposed by associations and endorsed by the CRFFN management under the Registrar, Barr. Sam Nwakohu.
“While the elections was later held on individual basis, the five so called “registered associations”; Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Association of Registered Freight Forwarders (AREFFN), Nigerian Airfreight Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC), National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), which represents less than 40 percent of the entire freight forwarders in the country, the Council has started sharing proceeds of the Practitioners Operating Fees (POF), with each of the above mentioned associations receiving N200,000.00 monthly from CRFFN.
“It should be noted that the said POF is paid by individuals and companies, yet there is no platform for these categories of legitimate CRFFN registered individuals and corporate bodies to benefit from the POF that the CRFFN has been sharing among the monopolistic associations parading themselves as registered associations,” the group said.
AFPPLON warned that the continuous marginalization of CRFFN registered individual and corporate members is stoking a high degree of dissent that could evolve into a protest against CRFFN in the nearest future and land the agency in litany of litigations.
On alleged financial misappropriation by the CRFFN Registrar, APFFLON recalls that in June 2021, the Ministry of Transportation began investigations on the numerous atrocities allegedly perpetuated by the Registrar of CRFFN, but the industry stakeholders, especially freight forwarders, are still waiting for the outcome of the findings of the Ministry.
“The Registrar was alleged of employing 13 ghost workers, seized workers allowances in excess of N15million and other financial misappropriation. He was said to have singlehandedly organized a fake training for selected CRFFN officials that cost N109million.
“Furthermore, aggrieved members of staff of the Council revealed all these in a petition sent to the Chairman of the Governing Council of CRFFN and the Ministry of Transportation, as they accused the CRFFN’s Registrar of several financial misappropriations and discrimination against men.
“The petition document dated August 20th, 2020 was signed by CRFFN top management staff including; the Deputy Director, Finance and Accounts, Dr. Abah George; Head of Internal Audit, Mr. Agor Gideon; Head of Research and Development, Mr. Leo Anigbo; Head of Administration/ Human Resources, Mr. Ben Ojumah; and the Head of Corporate Affairs, Mrs. Chinyere Uromta.
“Following the top issues of serious illegalities raised in the petition, the Transportation Ministry interrogated the CRFFN Registrar and the maritime public demand that the findings of the Transport Ministry be publicized because we are aware that Mr. Muhiy-deen Awwal, Director, Human Resources Management, Ministry of Transportation headed a Committee that concluded a report on this matter.
“It came to our notice that the Registrar was found guilty but exonerated on account of his closeness to the former Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi. However, we do expect that as a crusader of President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration of transparency and accountability, we have confidence that you will use your office good to reveal the findings and take appropriate actions on this matter,” it said.
APFFLON also accused all five CRFFN self-acclaimed accredited associations of violation of the provision of the Act, under Section 11(5) (d) and (6) (a-b) which stipulates that any associations that failed to pay their annual subscriptions for a period of six months should be deregistered.
Ogunojemite said the associations have failed to pay their annual subscriptions for over six years.
“The implication of this is that there is no compliant accredited association of freight forwarders with CRFFN as we speak.
“Going by the CRFFN Act, all the acclaimed accredited associations ought to have been deregistered in compliance to the above mentioned CRFFN Act and its Regulation, as they have failed to live up-to the expectation of the law.
“However, due to the illegalities that has eroded the Council activities and the corruptive marriage alliance between the Council’s Registrar and the said associations. These selfacclaimed “accredited associations” are still parading themselves as accredited members of the CRFFN.
“It is also regrettable, sad and shocking that these associations which have failed to live up to the express stipulations of the law by their failure to pay their subscriptions fees to CRFFN have begun receiving N200,000.00 monthly stipends from CRFFN as part of Practitioners Operating Fees (POF).
“While the Council ought to has deregister these associations to demonstrate the Council willingness to enforce the provision of the Act and Council’s regulations. It is quite unfortunate that the CRFFN Governing Board, which ought to reprimand, sanction the offenders and uphold the rule of law in the industry has failed to live up to its mandate and abandoned its regulatory and supervisory role on freight forwarding business over the years. Perhaps, this is because majority of the Governing Board members are sponsored candidates of these fraudulent associations who have been using them to bankrolling their illegalities.
“It is an open secret that the leadership of these associations in cahoots with the Council’s Registrar has sabotage the accreditation of many competent associations like APFFLON who are willing to contribute to the progress of the industry. It also worthy to note that, APFFLON immediately after its incorporation applied to the Council for accreditation since 21st May 2019, however, its accreditation was sabotage by the combine evil marriage between the Council’s Registrar and the leadership of the above-mentioned association in order to protect their selfish interest,” the group said.