Worried by the incessant blocking of cargoes duly cleared from the seaports by different Police formations, a coalition of freight forwarding associations, traders and shippers has said that it will be having audience with the Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu to state its fact on the matter.
The coalition which made this disclosure in a press briefing in Lagos recently stated that it was to embark on the visit believing that the IGP was not aware of what his officers were doing in the port environment.
The coalition comprised of the Shippers’ Association Lagos State (SALS), Ndigboamaka Progressive (Traders) Association, Association of Registered Freight Forwarders Nigeria (AREFFN), Congregation of Freight Forwarding Practitioners of Nigeria (CREFFPON), African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), Justice and People-Care Foundation and the Sea Empowerment and Research Centre.
A former National President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Eugene Nweke who spoke on behalf of the coalition observed that every now and then, they witness an influx of Police operatives in port clearance operation which according to him was not in line with the laid down standard.
Nweke noted that “if government has itemized agencies that should be represented in the port and the Nigeria Police, for instance, have Marine Police or port Police as the case may be to be in the port, then suddenly, from operations, you now see Zone 2 and Zone whatever finding way to find manifest and now start blocking vehicles and consignments at different shipping lines, instructing terminal operators not to release, that such cargo is undergoing investigation.
“The question is, having interviewed fifty freight forwarders and fifty shippers, their experiences with these people, there was at no time, all the accusations made has led to recovery of trade infraction or the so called concealment as claimed. It all boils down to extortion and exploitation.
“From here, in the next two weeks, we will be having audience with the Inspector General of Police to state our fact on this believing that he is not aware of what thrives in the port environment.”
Pointing out that Section 157 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) gave the Nigeria customs the power of a Police officer, he added, “the question we have always asked, before now, has the port changed? Is it not the same import we have being doing way back in the 60s till date? At no time has it been said that cargo duly cleared from the port, on its way to the warehouse of the importer, will be stopped not to go by mere claim of investigation activities.
“We want to speak with the IG; investigation activities should be defined so that if you are investigating, we will also be aware you are investigating and we will also follow up with the outcome of the investigation. What we hear is we have information on your consignment that you did not pay customs duty or we have information on your consignment that the importer is into money laundering or drug trafficking. All the information, where does it end at the end of the day?
“If you listen to some of these traders on what they go through, where they even try to make them sign documents in order to make them cow-tow but some of them say no. Sometimes, they examine this container and they don’t see anything, at the end of the day, the importer need to get another vehicle to evacuate the cargo to his warehouse. Some will go to Police and start another form of examination of cargo.
“If there should be anything like investigation activities, please notify the Nigeria customs. There must be inter-agency collaboration and it has been there, go back to the customs to examine it and whatever you want, let everybody see it. Stop waylaying cargo on the way. That has to stop!”
Photo: Former National President, NAGAFF, Dr. Eugene Nweke (2nd Right) addressing the press on behalf of the coalition during the press briefing in Lagos recently.
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