- As management denies
One of the leading terminal operators in the country, AP Moller Terminals has been linked to a shocking seizure as the Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) foiled attempts by some suspects to smuggle 10 cartons of 225mg tramadol tablets valued at N2.8 million out of the Apapa port, using an ambulance.
Although the illicit act hasn’t been explicitly linked to the giant container terminal company, the seized Hyundai Ambulance with registration number LND605XW belonged to Medbury Medical Services, an industrial medical services provider contracted to AP Moller Terminal.
Surprisingly, in a worst form of crisis management ever known, Medbury Medical Services, not AP Moller, issued an unsigned statement, already published in the media, claiming to have suspended the suspects while claiming ignorance of the act.
According to a Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability expert, Mr. Debo Adeniyi, AP Moller should take responsibility for the inability to live up to its expectations as a corporate citizen and should be made to face the consequences of its lapses in ensuring that its value chain is equipped to achieve a common corporate goal.
The Area Commander, Compt. Mohammed Abba-Kura, however, revealed the AP Moller’s complicity while addressing newsmen at a press briefing, on Wednesday, explaining that the officers were on routine surveillance when they suspected the vehicle laden with the prohibited articles of trade, attributing it to the command’s 24-hour surveillance in and around the port.
Compt. Abba-Kura admonished the terminal to scrutinize the activities of all categories of employees, while he assured that the Command is working assiduously to ascertain the level of involvement of other members of staff at AP Moller Terminal.
He also noted that the two suspects, Michael Ajibade (driver) and Olatunde Emmanuel (escort) gave very useful information that led the Customs to profile the container which was examined the following day.
The suspects were said to have been intercepted by customs officers at 11p.m last Friday on their way out of the port in the ambulance, which was usually stationed at the port complex for medical emergencies.
The CAC said, “Physical examination further revealed that 211 cartons of the drugs were missing from the container. The Duty Paid Value (DPV) of the stolen drugs stands at (approximately) N59.4 million”
During interrogation by journalists, the driver, Ajibade – an elderly man – denied knowledge of the content of the 10 cartons, stating that his yet-to-be-identified principal(s) promised him N2,000 just to take the items across the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) gate.
Similarly, the dockworker, who escorted the articles, said he was promised N50,000.
Abba-Kura also revealed that the command generated N20.02 billion in the last 12 working days from July 1 to 15, having earlier declared a half-year generated revenue of N203 billion.
In a surprise move, however, Medbury Medical Services, owner of the ambulance used to convey the 10 cartons of stolen tramadol, has denied involvement.
The company, in a statement on Thursday not signed or attributed to anybody, said that the driver hijacked the ambulance without permission.
While NCS, announced the arrest of two suspects caught with 10 cartons of stolen tramadol conveyed in an ambulance at Apapa ports, Medbury said it earlier declared the whereabouts of driver and ambulance unknown and missing before the news broke. The company stated that its ambulance was unlawfully hijacked by the perpetrators of the condemnable act.
No police report to the effect that the Ambulance was missing before the crime was committed was presented anywhere, either to the media or AP Moller, maritime stakeholders have observed, raising serious doubt on the claims as an after-thought.
The company further claimed that it has immediately suspended the driver and launched investigation into how the vehicle was used for the illegal activity. The statement read in part, “The initial assumption was that the driver had stolen the ambulance, but we were later informed that the driver had been intercepted by Customs officers at the Port and Tramadol was discovered in the vehicle.
“We will like to clarify that the driver was at the time of the incident not authorized to move the vehicle out of the premises and acted on his own accord. We immediately provided a replacement fully equipped ambulance as soon as we were notified of the incident and the driver involved has been suspended indefinitely pending the report of the investigation”
The statement added it is a law-abiding organization, “we will like to state that we are cooperating fully with the Nigeria Customs regarding this incident”.
The company commended moves by the Nigeria Customs to further investigate the matter stating “While the Terminal interfaces with Nigerian Customs and the issue of investigation is ongoing, we are on standby to offer assistance within our capacity and knowledge on the issue as well as receive any useful information from the terminal on its perspective on the issue.
“The ambulance is a life-saving vehicle and was unlawfully hijacked and used to perpetuate this crime against the purpose for which it was purchased and assigned by our organization” the statement said.