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The leadership of the Nigerian Navy has been stunned after allegedly finding over a hundred million Naira in the bank account of an officer(name and position withheld) who amassed the colossal sum from bribes collected at Apapa port environs as a security personnel responsible for the truck call-up management.
The officer was said to have been caught allowing irregular movement of trucks on the Apapa bridge after receiving bribes, the senior officer who caught him rebuked him but the junior was unruly and his actions were reported to the Nigerian Navy disciplinary units.
It was during the investigation of the junior officer for insubordination that hundreds of millions was found in his bank account and the figure is believed to be proceeds of bribes collected by the officer.
The officer who was assigned to the hotspot by the NNS Beecroft Commander confessed that he had been collecting N50,000 per truck from those who transit the Apapa bridge.
The officer also confessed to having stayed on the juicy duty post for over one year on account of liquid returns to his superiors on weekly basis.
The investigation was directed by the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas who was alarmed by the degree of indiscipline in the service. This investigation is also believed to have necessitated the recent general redeployment exercise in the Navy which saw the redeployment of the NNS Beecroft Commander as well as thirty-one other Rear Admirals across the Service.
Commodore I.A Shettima replaced Commodore Okon Eyo as the Commanding officer, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT on Tuesday, last week.
A Naval officer who revealed this to MMS Plus, also alleged that the erring officer had been settling several Rear Admirals as well as some highly placed persons in the presidency.
Our source alleged that the senior Naval officers have been involved in the settlement process which include certain sums given to President Muhammadu Buhari’s principal Aide in the Presidency(name withheld).
Port stakeholders have lamented that the corruption at the ports was the reason all efforts to solve the Apapa port access road crisis have been futile over the years.
Recall that the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) recently accused the Nigerian Navy of complicity in the traffic situation in and around the Lagos ports thereby adding to the cost taking out cargo from the ports and returning of empty containers back to the ports.
The Vice President of the association, Dr. Kayode Farinto accused the Nigerian Navy officers who head the taskforce teams on traffic decongestion of extorting as much as N150,000 from the truckers and later reducing the amount to N80,000. He also revealed that the association wrote to officially invite the Commander of the NNS Beecroft requesting for a meeting between the association and the Nigerian Navy.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT, Mr. Charles Brinemigha said that he had no knowledge of such development when quizzed by our correspondent last week.
“Oga, I’m not aware of that. I have never heard about it. As a Public Relations Officer, I can tell you that I am not aware of such incident. I can also assure that there is no investigation of such scenario taking place at this Command. If there is any investigation of that nature, I should have known” he said.
Speaking further, he said the allegation is unreal, opining that if such officer ‘ had hundreds of millions in his account, “what would he be doing in the Nigerian Navy?”
“If you calculate his pensions and gratuity and earnings for 50 years it wouldn’t amount to N100million. Even if the alleged officer was the only corrupt personnel collecting monies throughout Apapa, he would still not be able to have that amount in his possession. How can this be possible? It’s obviously fake news” he said.
Meanwhile the Naval spokesperson stated that the former Commanding officer, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT, Commodore Okon Eyo, had created a call-up system that involved collaboration of other security agencies and port stakeholders.
“Commodore Eyo initiated the call-up system that saw articulated vehicles sent to designated car parks or truck parks. Without having a call-up, one couldn’t leave the truck park to clog the port access roads. The operators of those truck parks had to see your call-up before they release you from the park. However, there are always people who want to cut corners and give bribes rather than use call-up system” he said.
He stressed that the Navy wasn’t the only part that constitutes the taskforce. “We also have the Nigerian Airforce, Nigerian Army, Lagos State Transport Management Authority (LASTMA), Department of State Security Service (DSS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and other trucking associations like the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), and others. The outgoing Commodore gave his phone number to these different groups demanding that they call him if any member of the taskforce demands bribe. Nobody has ever called him. So, if anyone alleges that the Navy collects bribe it is not true. No one is expected to pay a dime and this is obvious. Those who don’t want call-up are probably the ones raising these allegations because they don’t want to do the right thing” he said.
He maintained that truck operators on the route ought to have NPA call-up and the Navy call-up before they hit the road, noting that the essence was to restrict vehicular movement on this road to have easy flow of traffic on the bridge.
Recall that MMS Plus recent investigations revealed that there are over 50 illegal checkpoints on the Lagos port corridors.
These checkpoints have become extortion points for the military taskforce personnel deployed to ease the flow of traffic while touts haven’t been left out of the extortion exercise as truck-drivers are fleeced at every checkpoint.
Over fifteen illegal checkpoints exist between Ijora and Apapa, while the figure increases to twenty-two at night from 7pm. Similarly, another thirteen extortion checkpoints exist between Mile 2 – Tin Can – Liverpool route; while eight checkpoints were counted by our correspondent on Mile 2 to Ajegunle (Boundary) route. Mazamaza to Kirikiri axis also recorded another nine checkpoints.
Speaking with MMS Plus on this issue, the President of Corporate Truck Fleet Owners Association, Mrs. Folake Soji-George lamented that the taskforce set-up by the government to diminish truckers’ plight have compounded the problem.
“In Nigeria when government sets up an agency to come and ameliorate suffering, they are the ones that will compound the sufferings one way or the other for pecuniary gains. I believe that Nigerians are always in too much hurry. You find that most people are self-centered and this caused the problem of extortion” she said.
Speaking further, she said; “Nobody has ever collected N20,000 or N30,000 or N70,000 or N80,000 from me. I would not pay, for what reason! It is probably because somebody is in a hurry because I also took it upon myself to interview some people that have one or two trucks and they told me “madam, it’s because you have fleet, nobody will ask you for money, because you have fleet, you can do this, you can do that but for them, they want to work and they cannot afford to stay for two weeks or one month without jobs so they will go and offer somebody money. Who will you offer money that won’t take?”