DC Ayo is too strict on the job- Agents lament
By Mcanthony Onuoha
Clearing Agents doing business at TinCan Port, Lagos, said they have been working with Customs officers at Terminal D1, but never encountered an officer like the current O. C in charge of Five Star Terminal,(D1),Deputy Comptroller Caroline Ayo, describing her as extremely strict on the job.
One of the agents who spoke under anonymity said, “The D.C is in the habit of not allowing any form of infraction, as she is always bent on making agents pay dearly for wrong declarations and short payments, accusing her of being unfriendly to the agents.
When asked of his expectations of the Deputy Comptroller, the agent had this to say, “We are not finding things easy to get job from importers is not a child’s play. As a family man saddled with responsibilities, you don’t get a job and an officer somewhere becomes a stumbling block to you either because of an infraction in your declaration or a little discrepancy in your payment,
“The DC must thoroughly scrutinise every document and she is very quick at pointing out errors that would make you pay additional duty, thereby making one sound so un-profesional before his importer.”
He went further to say, “She is too strict and would not give room for settlement. The worst part of it is that no amount of plea would deter her from referring the infractions to Valuation Unit just to make you pay to the last Kobo. The DC is so meticulous.”
“As a woman and mother, there should be agreement for settlement than referring you to either valuation or raise a Demand Notice (DN) that would make the agent lose every Kobo.
“Not only that, you also have the gate and Federal Operations Unit to contend with after that. All these amount to efforts in futility, because we keep working and no value is being added,
“l am not saying that she should not be diligent, my grouse is that she is too meticulous for my liking. Such uncompromising officer is not needed here. She is impoverishing us rather than adding value to us.” He protested.
Another clearing agent, corroborated, ” l am amazed the way some of these public officers keep claiming ‘holier than thou’, that is why you see some of them coming to beg their colleagues who are still in the service for money few months after their retirement, all because they failed to utilise the opportunities that came their way while still in the Service”.
Adding that, “Nigeria is no one’s estate and no public officer will tell you that he does not “play ball”, but this officer is really not cooperating with agents at all, too bad.”
In order not to rely on lopsided information, another freight forwarder, Ejike God’s will, who claimed to have known D/C Caroline Ayo Esq.,for over fifteen years, conversely, described the DC as an exceptional character, attributing her career success to her family values, as well as her insatiable appetite for knowledge.
His words,” D/C.C.E Ayo Esq. is one of those seasoned officers who work so hard to give the organization a facelift; talk about integrity, transparency and professionalism, her name must be prominently and colourfully written in the compendium of public officers who possess these virtues”. Adding that, “anyone casting her in bad light is only trying to ‘give a dog a bad name in order to hang it’ ; they are only being mischievous”.
He went further to say, “the problem some agents have with the officer is that, at every point in time, she tries to tutor them on the right ways of doing things. She is so prudent, pragmatic and hates to see people conduct themselves in an unprofessional manner.
She wants you to always do the right thing, either because of her profession as a lawyer, her family values, patriotism, or probably her religious background. But to say the least, the officer remains one of the best things to happen to Nigeria Customs Service.
Another freight forwarder, Chris Ezenagu, when approached for his opinion on the same issue, had this to say,” I have been working with Customs officers for twenty five years now and l make bold to say that the O/C Terminal D1, DC.C.E Ayo is one officer that has distinguished herself in many ways than one.
She is a professional who puts the right attitude to work. she is not only a public officer but also a true mother. Those casting aspersions on her personality have a sinister purpose. They are unnecessarily aggrieved people who mindlessly cast stones at the innocent. I guess their problem is that they have not had an interface with the officer. They probably based their accusations on hearsay. Sincerely speaking, she is very thorough. The DC hates to see anyone circumventing the rules”.
When the Deputy Controller was confronted, she dismissed those who keep lamenting, criticizing her principles on the way she carries out her duty as mischievous, dishonest and lacking in integrity.
In her words, “l keep encountering people who present themselves as clearing agents but cannot make good use of the tariff, let alone looking into the CEMA. Some don’t even know the job.
“Once you tell them the right thing to do, they brand you a wicked woman. l cannot because of them compromise my family values. l have a name to protect”.
Continuing, the DC said, “l have being in this job for 29 years and have never at one time or the other been found wanting. Is it now that l am at the peak of my career that l will begin to do despicable things that could tarnish my image? Why would l do that? They should have a rethink and start doing the right things.”
The DC said, “If you and your importers can not make the right declaration, or you find a way to cut corners, thinking that DC Ayo will comply with you in your shenanigans, far from that joke.
“I can’t encourage anyone who is bent on circumventing the rules, never. I will keep doing the job the right way. l didn’t come here to align with uninformed people who suddenly develop verbal diarrhea because their expectations are not being met. My candid advice to them is that they should always do the right thing, that’s all”.