Worried by the increasing complaints of shippers and freight agents over indiscriminate interception of containers by the police on the road and warehouses, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission(ICPC) has petitioned the Inspector General of Police, declaring that containers are not supposed to be stopped once it is cleared at the port by Nigeria Customs Service(NCS) officials.
The Nigerian Shippers’ Council(NSC) had written ICPC and complained about the flagrant extortion perpetrated by the Police and the federal operation formations of customs service by stopping containers on the road, saying it impedes trade facilitation as well as negates the policy of ease of doing business even as it increases the cost of doing business.
Speaking at a joint press conference by ICPC and NSC on the implementation of the Nigerian Ports Process Manual(NPPM) in Abuja, last week, the Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye said that the commission was determined to stamp out corruption at the ports and as such will ensure that all the relevant agencies at the port comply with the operating system.
Represented by Mrs. Azuka Ogugua, who is the mouthpiece of ICPC, the Chairman gave the assurance that the police interference in cargo clearance and delivery would be stamped out soon with a system review and synergy with the police.
While the NPPM implementation committee is billed to meet the Police IG next week, Prof.Owasanoye said that the commission has gone into partnership with other government agencies at the port to fully enforce and arrest “anyone that causes any infraction or does not follow the processes as laid down in the manual”.
“It is international best practice we are trying to put in place in Nigeria, so we will not allow anyone to sabotage our efforts. We started with the setting up of standing task team and their mandate is to carry out necessary anti-corruption activities that would help dismantle any corruption network that fuels corruption in the port sector and then there would be a regular cooperation in the port to generate evidence- based infractions against the Standard Operating Procedure(SOP), Port Process Manual(PPM) and the ease of doing business policy of the federal government”, he stated.
On his part, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello at the press briefing lamented that NSC, led himself had visited past Police IGs over the undue interception of containers by the police.
“Only two weeks ago, I reached out to IG of Police on this police interception of containers. NSC had obtained a directive from the IG of Police asking that police should stop detaining containers. We had to train the police at the port so that they can understand the economic consequences of stopping a container. Containers are not supposed to be stopped once cleared. Then they ceased their action but they have resumed again.” Hassan said.
According to him,“The Police now go to the warehouses or factories and arrest containers. Even the freight agents have complained about Customs’ Federal Operation Units(FOUs) and double alerts. The World Customs Organisation(WCO) has asked member countries customs to make known their processes and procedures so as to facilitate trade.”
NPPM was launched recently by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo in an effort to enhance Nigeria’s ranking on the Corruption Perception Index(CPI), boost transparency and eliminate bottlenecks and illegal demands within the nation’s seaports and terminals.
The manual is a collection of various processes extracted from procedures of stakeholders in the port. It is aimed at improving operations, service timelines, efficiency and accountability in the port sector.
NSC was appointed as the lead agency for NPPM, while all other government agencies in the maritime and related sectors were co-opted into the implementation committee.