- Denies allegation of settling scores with Clarion
- Says he’s been dragged to Zone 2 Police
By Ray Ugochukwu
The last is yet to be heard on the debacle between Clarion Bonded Terminal and the 100% Compliance Team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) over the ‘flown’ 19 containers and the 14 vehicles said to be trapped in the offdock facility.
The latest is that Clarion has dragged the Chairman of the 100% Compliance Team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, to the Zone 2 Command of the Nigeria Police, Lagos, for threat to life and disappearance of 15 vehicles from its premises during the picketing of the facility early last month.
Tanko disclosed this to Seabreeze Newsonline in an exclusive chat in his office at the weekend, saying that one Frank of Clarion, who had earlier claimed lack of knowledge on the fate of the 19 containers and 14 vehicles, was the brain behind the petition to the Police.
Recall that the 100% Compliance Team picketed Clarion Bonded Terminal on Monday, April 4, 2022, carrying placards with different inscriptions, demanding the whereabouts of the 19 containers “flown” out of customs control at the Tin Can Island Port to an unknown destination. The act, it alleged, was done by the management of the terminal in connivance with First Degree Multinationals Nigeria Limited.
It also demanded for the release of 14 vehicles allegedly trapped at the terminal since last year, on condition that they should pay over N8.0 million as unpaid assessment linked to the licensed customs agency handling them, Ajaji Continental Limited.
Tanko has however, made it clear that no amount of intimidation or blackmail would deter him and his team from retrieving the said vehicles from the terminal.
In his words, “the 14 vehicles must be brought out from the terminal and I will bring them to NAGAFF for everyone to see. This is the issue. People don’t know my background. Before I take any drastic action on anything, I must exhaust all avenues for dialogue. It’s only when dialogue fails that I take action.
“Before we went there to picket the terminal, we had written to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, the Customs; Commissioner of Police, Ports and others. We informed the NAGAFF Founder and our President. We don’t just act unilaterally on issues as a team. The same Frank, who now wrote the petition against me, had claimed not to know anything about the containers and the 14 vehicles when he was approached in the absence of the owner of the terminal”.
The Niger State-born business man told our reporter that his team had decided to play low following the intervention into the crisis by the new Customs Area Controller (CAC), Tin Can Island Port (TCIP) Command, Comptroller Olakunle Oloyode.
He disclosed that the CAC, being new to the area, had requested for a fresh letter of complaint to him so he could understand fully what actually transpired in order to resolve the matter, a demand he said, had been complied with the following day.
Oloyode, Tin Can CAC
Tanko added that he had responded to Zone 2 Police invitation and had written a response to the petition by Clarion, even as he had briefed Commander on the decision of the Customs Controller, who had waded into the matter. According to him, the Police had fixed May 10, 2022 for the two parties to meet with them, if need be, depending on the outcome of the CAC’s intervention.
The NAGAFF 100% Compliance Team boss denied insinuations in some quarters that he was using the Clarion debacle to settle old scores with the terminal, saying he had never met the terminal owner ever before not to talk of doing any business there.
“You see, people will always say whatever they like. I don’t know the Clarion woman, neither have I ever met her before. If I see her now, I won’t be able to recognize her. It is the issue of the 19 containers and the 14 vehicles in particular that made me go to the place, nothing more”, he said.
The Compliance Team Chairman said ever since the crisis started, he had been receiving a lot of threats from many quarters but vowed that there was no going back until the offdock facility did the needful as expected of it.
“As far as I’m concerned, it is only God that gives and takes life. Almost on daily basis I’m being threatened ever since this thing happened, even before then. I’m not bothered as long as I know I’m doing the right thing”, he asserted.
He expressed optimism that the CAC of Tin Can Customs, Comptroller Oloyode, whom he described as a seasoned officer, would be able to amicably resolve the matter.
On the allegation that his team issued an empty threat to shipping companies and other agencies of government as mere bargaining chip for self aggrandizement, Tanko said this was a figment of imagination of their detractors.
He said the Team had meant to strike but was restrained by the Registrar of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Barr. Samuel Nwakohu, who said they must not act without the authorization of the regulator.
In his words, “After issuing the picketing notice, we were ready to act before the Registrar of CRFFN called on us to stop; that we cannot do anything without the CRFFN permission as our regulator.
“This was what slowed us down and we have been waiting to see what it wants to do but nothing has been heard from them yet. Nobody paid or intimidated us to stop. It’s just that the CRFFN slowed us down and we’re still waiting for them”.