…Intercepts 40ft Container Already Cleared by Apapa Customs for Wrong Declaration
…Arrests Two Clearing Agents
By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Maritime Police Command, AIG Susan U. Akem-Horsfall has said that the command recovered 287 already stolen empty containers for International shipping companies; MSC Shipping and Maersk Nigeria Limited.
The Police AIG stated this during a press briefing held at the Kam Salem House office of the command in Obalende, Lagos on Tuesday.
Akem-Horsfall also disclosed that the command in the course of duty intercepted a 40foot container already cleared by the Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service for wrong declaration.
While reacting to reports that the Maritime Police was blocking already released containers and extorting clearing agents, the Police AIG faulted the claims, adding that there is an ongoing connivance between clearing agents, terminals and shipping companies to release cargoes wrongly and shortchanging Federal Government of needed revenue.
Speaking, she said “In an attempt to carry out our functions, the following achievements were made within one month in office;
“Recovery of already stolen over 287 empty containers for MSC Shipping, Maersk Nigena Ltd and other Shipping Companies.
“One Izuchukwu Udeogu who is a kingpin in empty container theft was arrested and case was charged to Court.
“Secondly, there has been an improvement in our intelligence gathering and the deployment of cutting-edge technology in policing our waterways. This led to the arrest of 1x40ft container that is on display here.
“Acting on a credible information/intelligence, men
of the Maritime Police Command on Friday 18th August, 2023 at about 2330hrs, intercepted a
container with number MRSU-5797660, 1x 40ft.
“The information revealed that the container was cleared with forged documents in connivance with allied security agents at the port.
“The document recovered from the suspects read that the content of the container are as follows; Two used Toyota Hiace buses with chasis number TRH2019043526 and TRHU 2002467311 and 650 packages of used auto spare parts and engines.
“Two suspects namely; Obiora Udenkwo and Chika Igwingu were apprebended, and on interrogation, they confessed that there was no vehicle inside the container but it was carrying Robert Soap and that the documents were doctored.
“The suspects would be charged to Court upon completion of investigation”
DAILY TREND reports that when the apprehended container was opened, it was loaded with Mayonnaise, bails of Centre Rug, among others, different from the documentation.
While fielding questions from journalists earlier, the Police AIG alleged that there is an existing conspiracy against the maritime police by Nigeria Customs Service, Terminal Operators, Shipping companies and other stakeholders at the port.
“On assumption of office, I have written several letters inviting the Comptrollers of Customs at Tin Can Island Port and Apapa port. The Apapa Port Comptroller responded because their Comptroller has just been promoted, the Deputy who was acting for him sent the DC Enforcement who came over and we discussed.
“But up till now, the Comptroller of Customs Tin Can Port has not responded. I have had meetings with Shippers Council, Terminal Operators and we have discussed areas in which we can all operate on the same page so that work would be seamless, however I am not getting a good response from them. I have threw an olive branch at them but they are not responding, it’s like there is a conspiracy against the Police.
“The Maritime Police is supposed to he working with the Port Authority Police, NIMASA, NIWA and everything concerning the coastal area of the nation. You cannot be operating the port in isolation without the maritime police, the customs is not solely responsible for activities at the port because we are charged with revenue enforcement of their activities.
“We are charged with all laws of the federation including customs law. Everything that the Police does on the land, the Maritime Police will do it on the waters.
“I have told them that I operate an open door policy, anything my men are doing wrong, they should feel free to report to me, but I have not been getting this. Rather when i want to investigate a container, they are telling me to write to the Controller of Customs
The Customs that have earlier cleared a container wrongly?
“We can all come together and operate on the same page to avoid friction, we are all sister agencies working towards the same goal, we don’t want economic sabotage” she said