…NDLEA Also Fingered for Alleged Extortion
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Barely two months after the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Hon Emmanuel Jime warned the Nigerian Police to stop arrest and detention of containers at the nation’s seaports, there are indications that these warnings has continued to fall on deaf ears.
This is even as clearing agents operating at the port has alleged that Port Police is throwing spanners in the wheel of the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business at the port by randomly blocking exit of already cleared containers from the port.
The police were also alleged to be demanding between N100,000 and N150,000 to release the containers and vehicles.
Speaking with DAILY TREND on Monday, Task Force Chairman of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at Tin Can Island Port, Alhaji Rilwan Amuni popularly known as June 12, alleged that the Police was carrying out the atrocities in connection with Shipping Companies.
“Whenever we are carrying out cargo examination at the port, the police are always on ground, but after releasing your cargo from customs and you get to the shipping company to release, they will tell you that Maritime Police from Kamsalem House have blocked the container, for no reason.
“At the end of the day, you would end up spending five days in their custody, is this how to facilitate trade at the port?
“I know that if our association, ANLCA is not having a divided house, they cannot be trying this nonsense with us.
“Whenever your cargo is blocked, they would demand for N100,000 0r N150,000 depending on the kind of cargo you are carrying. It is bad to the extend that they even have mole in the shipping company that is collecting money on their behalf
“There was a container I was working on Friday, before I could finish processing, they told me that Maritime Police has blocked it, I couldn’t meet up with their demand until the following week Tuesday, I ended up paying demurrage for five days
“The police should not come and be doing the job of the Customs at the port.
The frustrated ANLCA Taskforce Chairman said that the agents have reported the matter severally to the Nigerian Shippers Council but that action is not being taken on it yet.
Also speaking with our correspondent, another victim of the alleged police extortion at the port, Mr Odion Solomon lamented that the manner with which law enforcement officers extort money from clearing at the ports has reached an unbearable peak.
What the maritime police does is that they pick containers randomly and block them from the shipping companies and terminals for no reason.
“How much do they think an agent makes on these containers? After paying all the neccessary duties, we don’t see more than N50,000.
And here Police is telling us that they have a new AIG that needs money, what is our business with that? Now they are threatening TICT Terminal because they are releasing containers the police has blocked.
Mr Solomon lamented that there was no way trade can be facilitated at the port unless the Port Economic Regulator; Shippers Council Steps into the matter.
“All the matter we have been reporting, we have not received any response” he alleged
Solomon also fingered the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) of extorting money from clearing agents and importers under the pretence that their containers are on watch list for drug import.
He said “It would be better for NDLEA to bring a sniff dog into the port to detect if anyone has drugs on their containers, instead of using this as yardstick to always collect money from clearing agents.
“I did an examination last week Friday, the container was on ground for inspection from 9am in the morning, I only had mattresses inside the container, about 15 pieces. As for the five cars inside the container, there was nothing else in it
“For them to start saying the container is on watch list, they need to bring in their dog to check, not for them to always extort the clearing agents”
Recall that the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council, Hon Emmanuel Jime in June 2023 hosted the former Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG Maritime), Yekini Adio Ayoku at the agency’s Apapa office, where he stated that any delay in the movement of goods out of the ports impacts negatively on the nation’s economy.
AIG Adio has however been replaced by AIG Adepoju Ayinde Ilori .
Jime had noted that such delay by the police led to accumulation of demurrage against importers.
He said: “Congestions are in the seaport due to non-release of containers which ought to have been evacuated to make room for incoming cargoes, this has constituted barriers to us running our ports efficiently.”