Clearing agents operating at the nation’s seaports, on Monday, accused Clarion Bonded Terminal of Illegally releasing 19 containers suspected to contain Arms and ammunition in 2018.
The clearing agents under the aegis of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), made this disclosure when it’s 100 percent compliance team laid siege at the terminal gates, thereby disrupting economic activities.
The protest, it was gathered lasted from 8am until 4pm as business activities were crippled and the three access points to the bonded terminal barricaded
According to the protesters, the bonded terminal has become a safe haven for illicit logistics transactions with contrabands, flying containers and overzealous terminal operations famous at the facility.
Some of the placards carried by protesters today read; ‘Where are the nineteen containers of arms and ammunition released at your terminal? Who released the nineteen containers without duties paid? Clarion releases containers without TDOs! Where are the nineteen containers of First Degree?’
Addressing newsmen, the National Coordinator of NAGAFF 100% Compliance Team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, stressed that Ojogwu’s licensed was hacked when an First Degree Multinational Limited used his license to mysteriously clear 19 containers.
Tanko who was represented by, Berth Okeke, noted that Customs has come to Ojogwu’s rescue by releasing his license, but expressed shock that Clarion refused to unveil who took delivery of the 19 containers.
His words: “This problem has been on for over a year and we are here to protest because all efforts to get intervention from Customs, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and Nigerian Police had been futile. We have written petitions to Customs Area Controller at Tin Can, Commissioner of Police for Ports, we also copied the headquarters.”
“Nothing has been done since we dispatched letters and 14 vehicles cleared by the freight forwarder has been seized by the bonded terminal over this transaction of 19 missing containers. During a meeting with the Clarion General Manager on this incident, he confirmed that the terminal never provided a TDO for the 19 missing containers. How should the freight forwarding company be asked to pay DN for cargo it didn’t process or receive?”
Speaking earlier, the Managing Director of Ajaji Continental Limited, a licensed Customs company used to process the 19 missing containers, Mr. Godswill Ojogwu stated that Clarion terminal operators demanded over N8million demand notice (DN), on the missing containers.
His words: “I’m a retired Assistant Controller of Customs and on my retirement, I started a freight forwarding company, Ajaji Continental Limited. I’m also a member of NAGAFF. Clarion used my license fraudulently in 2018. When I discovered, I noticed that the bonded terminal used my license to steal 19 containers from Tin Can Island Port. These containers were moved as bonded transfer goods. They were supposed to move from Tin Can to Clarion but documents show that these containers were not released. Subsequently, my license was blocked and I approached Customs who directed my to Clarion who released the containers.”
“When I approached Clarion to show me who used my agency, they almost mobbed me when they seized about fourteen vehicles duly released by Customs. I approached Clarion with documents showing proper clearance from Customs and the shipping company, urging them to release the vehicles while we continue the investigation on the mystery 19 containers. Clarion bluntly refused as they demanded that I pay over N8million Demand Notice on the missing containers.”
“They are linking the 14 vehicles seized to the 19 containers they used my license to clear via a company known as First Degree Multinational Limited. MSC was the shipping company used for that transaction. There is no way goods would leave the port without due process but this was done in a shady manner. I wrote to the Area Controller of Tin Can Customs but my documents allegedly got missing on three ocassions at Customs. All efforts to find out how this problem emanated have been futile.”