The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) have warned the Nigerian shippers and shipping agents not to patronize any ship with foreign guards on board.
The Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi who disclosed this at the 1st Shippers’ Day Celebration in Lagos on Friday with the theme,” Working Towards A New Port Order: Journey So Far”, revealed that anyone who did patronize such ship would have the discharge of such ship delayed until the government takes position on the ship.
Represented by the Director Shipping Development of the agency, Capt. W. Enisuoh, Akpobolokemi mentioned insecurity in the maritime sector of the country as the major problem of the industry adding that there could be no progress if there is no security.
“The major problem we have is security, without security, there can be no progress and in recent times, our waters are being challenged by unscrupulous foreigners and we want to use this opportunity to advise the shippers and shipping agents that those who patronize these foreigners, ex mercenaries that come into our waters and arm our private security guards in collusion with some of our unscrupulous forces, no cargo will be discharged from that ship. It is straight and simple”.
“The fear is this, they come into a certain ship and nobody is there that matches their might and they destroy their weapons and we are all I trouble. I will seize this opportunity to ask our forces not to shy away from the charge that they have, we are equal to the task but please I beg of you, do not patronize any ship with foreign guards on board because our policy is simple, there will be no discharge of that ship until this country takes position on it”, he said.
Also speaking, the Commissioner of Police Western Ports Police Command, Mrs. Hilda Ibifuro Harrison stated that proper harnessing of the statutory roles of all the security agencies in the ports without interference would provide a better environment for the shippers to carry out their commercial activities.
Harrison pledged the efforts of the police under her command to key in into ensuring that a new port order comes with an environment that should be crime free, meeting up with its responsibility of protecting the lives and properties in the ports.
She said,” I thank the organizers of this forum and hope that we have other forums like this where we can interact and share information and intelligence that will enable the Nigeria Police force and especially the Western Ports Police Command carry out its statutory responsibility”.
On his part, the founder, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam decried the impunity with which a lot of people disobey the laws of the land in their transaction in the maritime industry and the helplessness the law enforcement agents display as they watch people disobey laws.
He therefore acknowledged that only respect for the rule of law and the rules of engagement and the determination of the security agencies to arrest and prosecute offenders would bring about the new port order which the shippers as well as the stakeholders in the industry are clamouring for.
According to him,” I can tell you people one thing, if we speak from now till tomorrow, it doesn’t make sense. What makes sense to me is to obey the law, the rules of engagement. The 7 point agenda of Mr. President talked about rule of law”.
“The laws are there even when you look at what the presenter said about the value question, the lawyers may not know that even when you look at some of these options, the customs law, if you look at various sections, sections 47 and 46, when you contravene all these matter of value or declaration, wrong classification of cargo, under declaration of cargo and what have you, it is five years imprisonment or an option of fine”.
“The funny thing is that the law enforcement agents who have the responsibility of protecting the laws of this country, they are under oath, they turn around, they connive with the businessmen and businesswomen to cheat the federal government they were supposed to protect and for me, the business man or woman has one thing as his or her interest, profit”.
“So, if we want to move forward, as we all gathered here, if we want to get a new port order, then all of you must join hands and respect the laws of this land and if anybody is doing anything on the contrary, report the person to the government and that is all”.