The Nigeria Customs Service has suspended Guarantee Trust Bank Limited (GTBank) from collection of duties on imported cargoes at Nigerian ports following an order from the National Assembly.
The development has led to tons of cargoes being trapped at the port since Monday because freight forwarders could not complete the process of clearing their goods from the port.
Confirming development, National Public Relations Officer of Nigeria Customs Service, Deputy Comptroller Mr. Timi Bomodi said the bank was on temporary suspension on orders of the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, demurrages have started accruing on some cargoes that have already made payments through the GTB Bank.
Reacting to the development, the President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agencts, NCMDLCA, Mr. Lucky Amiwero disclosed that it is only the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the Nigerian Customs Service through the Ministry of Finance that suspended an import duty collecting Bank.
Amiwero also said that the National Assembly by virtue of its oversight function can also suspend a Bank if the Bank is found to be involved in any form of corrupt or sharp practice.
“The people who are supposed to suspend them is the Central Bank of Nigeria going by the law but because of the oversight of the National Assembly, they have a right to do that if the Bank is found to be involved in any corrupt practice” Amiwero disclosed.
Similarly, Taskforce Chairman of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Tin Can Port Chapter, Alhaji Rilwan Amuni lamented that there was no official notice or circular from customs to warn the agents from making payments through the suspended bank.
Amuni said: “There are cargoes we have paid duty on, using Gtbank, some people have paid money, while some have captured the cargo for payment.
“It is unfortunate that when we are about processing our documents after payment, the customs did not attend to the jobs we have paid for, they said that Gtbank has been suspended from their portal.
“Since last week Friday, most of our jobs have been trapped at the port until now, and this is happening at all ports generally.
“I want to believe that the remittances to the Federal Government have not been paid for some time and this could be the reason.
“Ordinarily, customs should have cleared the cargoes we have paid for, but they have refused.
“The effect is that we are going to be paying huge demurrages, the customs are supposed to inform the shipping companies, in order to help us from paying these demurrages but they would not do that, there is lack of communication among all the players at the port”