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Why Nigerian ports lost cargo hub status to neighboring countries—-Stakeholders

Eyewitness reporter
Nigerian ports may have effectively lost the bid to become transshipment centres in the West and Central African sub-region due to its aging and dilapidated infrastructure.
For several years, Nigeria’s government has laboured to position its ports as load centres in the sub-region for economic advantages.
But an investigation by our correspondent has revealed that long years of government neglect,  lack of adequate investments in infrastructure, corruption, the multiplicity of government agencies and high cost and cumbersome nature of goods clearance of cargo at the Nigerian ports have all combined to rub Nigerian ports the preferred destination for cargoes within the sub-region.
Therefore, this development has made stakeholders in the industry berate the Government for its failure to develop the port infrastructure which they lamented have greatly decayed and dilapidated.
They disclosed that even after the ports were concessioned to private business interests, the concessionaires have done little to change the narrative as few of them are actually investing in the infrastructural development of the ports.
The stakeholders claimed that 90 percent of the infrastructure in the ports is more than 40 years old, which could no longer handle the volume of the operations at the ports.

Mr. Adeyinka Sholeye, a Marine Engineer,  said that Nigeria has lost its transshipment hub status to West African countries like Togo, Ghana and Benin Republic due to dilapidated port infrastructure in Nigeria.

“These countries claimed trans shipment hub status from Nigeria because they have developed their ports into modern ones with infrastructure such as good access roads, a deeper draught that can accommodate larger vessels.

“Don’t be surprised that these ports have been automated. They have automated their processes.

“While these countries can take a vessel with 16 meters draught, none of the Nigerian seaports can accommodate such vessel due to the nation’s shallow draught that is not more than 13 meters.

“That is to tell you the level of seriousness and investments these people have committed to their ports.”

The Vice President, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Kayode Farinto, speaking in a similar vein,  lamented that the nation’s second-largest revenue earner, after oil, was left to wallop in such a sorry state with dilapidated infrastructure.

According to him, there are too many factors that are drawing the sector backward, ranging from bad access roads to the ports, to high shipping costs, shallow water draft at seaports.

“There are too many issues responsible for the setback. The government does not have either the political will or is not serious about implementing those good policies. You should expect that before the end of this year, we are going to have more than 40 percent drop in cargo coming to Nigerian ports”.

“The neighbouring countries, such as Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo are rapidly developing their seaports while  Nigeria is currently losing grip of the shipping economy due to abandonment of the sector, which is the second revenue earner for the government after oil,” he noted.

The National President, National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, said the neighbouring ports have already positioned their ports as millennium ports, preferred, transshipment or load center, adding that most West African ports built their ports to accommodate Nigerian- bound cargo, knowing about the country’s poor infrastructure.

He identified the neighbouring ports, which have either completed their deep-sea projects or near completion at Cotonou, Benin Republic, Lome, Togo, Accra, Ghana and Cameroun.

He called on the Federal Government to wake up by designing the concept of a deep-sea/ transshipment center to accommodate large E-Class vessels/mega-ships of 8000- 20000 TEUs, that are currently demanded regionally and globally, which is the only solution to the diversion of goods to neighbouring ports.

He advised that with international best practices, Nigeria must design the National Guarantee system to cover the payment of import duty taxes at the time of transit; Custom Seal that ensures the physical integrity of the goods while in transit, making sure that the goods start and exit the transit in its original state; Implement electronic tracking system enabling Customs to track and locate transit vehicles and guide intervention force including Customs staff; a document system to enable transit document issued at the start of Transit journey to be accepted by transport and Custom authority along with transit.

Amiwero identified an inefficient port system as to why the country lost the transshipment hub status to other West African countries.

 He said except there is a change in infrastructure rehabilitation, Nigeria will continue to lose cargoes to neighbouring countries, which have deep seaports and better facilities.
The freight forwarder lamented that Nigerian ports cannot accommodate mega-ships with 8000-20000 TEUs, arguing that this was against the trend in neighbouring ports.

He said the Federal government needs to address the unwholesome practices of manipulated delays by providers of shipping services and other government agencies, leading to high demurrage, rent, and high transactional costs.

Amiwero stated that such practices are inimical to the efficiency of the port system, adding that such issues against Nigerian ports need to be addressed for the sake of the national economy.

“There is need to reclaim our cargo from neighboring West African countries that are now a hub for Nigeria cargos, by working out a mechanism for a better developed regional hub to consolidate on our destination of Nigerian cargo that has been siphoned by regional ports,” he advised.

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Freight Monitor

ANLCA cracks

Emenike Nwekeoji , ANLCA President
–ASECO chair resigns, cites internal pressure, backbiting, distrust
— insurrection at MMIA chapter as coup against chairman foiled 
The Eyewitness Reporter
Six months after the highly factionalized elections which brought in the duo of Emenike Nwekeoji and Olusegun Oduntan as the National President and Vice President respectively of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) in September 2023, the graveyard peace which heralded the pyrrhic victory seems to have ruptured.
The fragile peace, which was the fallout of the five years of bitter and intractable war that sent the oldest freight forwarding association to a state of inertia, now seems to have given way to distrust, bickering, animosity, suspicion and repressed anger among the top echelon of the association.
To underline the smouldering fresh crisis that has hit the association, Nze Aloy Emeka Igwe, the Chairman of the Association Elections Committee(ASECO )of ANLCA, has resigned his appointment.
In his letter of resignation dated 27th, February 2024 and addressed to the National President, Emenike Nwekeoji, Igwe, in a voice laden with regret and bitterness, cited extraneous influence, backbiting, under current and lack of trust” as the reasons why he called it quit.
“ASECO as presently constituted depicts a divided house due to the extraneous influence and pressure.
” The under current, the backbiting and lack of trust within and without ASECO have caused me to review my membership and chairmanship of the committee.
“I have deeply addressed my thoughts to this, consulted my family, friends and associates and decided that my time with ASECO is irreversibly over.
“There is no energy, no motivation left in me to continue to work under the prevailing regrettable circumstances” Igwe bemoaned.
A few days after the resignation of the highly traumatized ASECO chairman, a coup was played out at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport chapter of the association where one Chief Bola Ashiru Balogun, one of the defeated candidates of the chapter elections staged an unsuccessful coup to unseat the incumbent chairman, Bangbala Adewusi, Monday, March 4th,2024.
In a commando-like style, Chief Bola Balogun came into the Chairman’s office with officers of the Police Force from the Zonal Headquarters, Zone 2, Onikan.
According to an eyewitness account, on the strength of a petition of threat to Life against the Chairman, the Chairman, Chief Adewusi followed them to the Zonal Headquarters
“While the Chairman was away to Zone 2, Chief Bola Balogun allegedly came with hoodlums and area boys to forcefully break into the office of the Chairman and seize power forcefully on the strength of a May 2023 court judgement, which has been appealed and is currently being heard by the Appeal Court”
However, the attempt to unseat Chief Adewusi, who sources said was an unpopular chairman foisted  on the chapter by the cabal in ANLCA, was thwarted by members of the Task Force, led by the CSO, Mr. Maxwell Onyemachi, and other well-meaning members of the chapter loyal to the embattled chairman.
However, the last is yet to be head of the failed coup at the MMIA chapter as a group loyal to Chief Ashiru Balogun has promised to relaunch the attack on the Chairman, Chief Adewusi who they regarded as a puppet of the cabal in the association.
Stakeholders feared that the recent happening in the association may have signaled the slide of ANLCA back to another round of crisis which has ravaged the war-weary group for five years before its graveyard peace that is now shortlived.
The ANLCA President, Emenike Nwekeoji, through the Sectary of the Association, Olumide Fakanlu, “has graciously accepted the resignation letter of the highly embittered ASECO chairman.
In his acceptance letter dated March 1st, 2024 and signed by Fakanlu, the ANLCA President said the letter was received with mixed feelings but nonetheless, it was graciously accepted while wishing Emeka Igwe well in his future endeavours, thus signaling the resumption of hostilities in the acclaimed oldest freight forwarding Association in Nigeria’s maritime industry
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Headlines

Tantita Seizures: Court orders forfeiture of MT Kali to FG

The Eyewitness Reporter 
Private security outfit, Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited (TSSNL), has added another major win for the nation in collaboration with the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) in a landmark judgement, as the Federal High Court, Abuja, ordered the forfeiture of an illegal crude oil vessel, MT Kali and its content to the Federal Government.
Securing this judgement is the first scenario in recent times when oil thieves and their barons are being prosecuted and brought to book as 20 crew members, including community boys’ accomplices, were arrested in the operation.
The police in the Charge NO. FHC/ABJ/CR/18/2024 B/W: INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE V. MT KALI & 22 ORS, had arraigned the vessel and its 22 crew members before the Federal High Court, presided over by Justice J.O. Abdulmalik.
Justice Abdulmalik granted the motion for the interim forfeiture of MT Kali & her content to the Federal Government.
However, the arraignment of the suspects was stalled as they were not produced in court by the office of the Chief of Defence Staff.
All efforts by the prosecuting counsel to convince the court to issue a production warrant to be served on the military authorities for the production of the defendants on 18th March 2024 being the next adjournment date or at least the issue of the defendants’ summons to be served on the defendants through the military authorities proved abortive.
The court, however, sternly warned that the charge may not survive beyond the next adjournment date should the prosecution not secure the attendance of the defendants for their arraignment and plea.
The illegal oil bunkering ship was arrested by the operatives of Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited in conjunction with the special security task force set up by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, on January 11th, 2024.
The ship was arrested while siphoning crude oil from the Pennington Oil field of the Anglo-Dutch energy giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Bayelsa State.
The case is being prosecuted to a logical conclusion in the act of dexterity and patriotic zeal by the operatives of Tantita led by its Executive Director, Operations and Technical Services, Captain Warriedi Enisuoh and a team raised by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Kayode Egbetokun.
Egbetokun had directed the Police Special Task Force on Petroleum and Illegal Bunkering (IGP-STFPIB) under the command of Mr. Lot Lantoh Garba, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, to launch a discreet investigation into the arrest of the bunkering ship.
Investigations into the arrest of MT Kali were being intensified as operatives of Tantita arrested another illegal bunkering ship MT HARBOR SPIRIT, weeks after, on February 4th.
The Moldovian vessel was caught while stealing crude oil from Sengana oilfields in the coastal axis of Bayelsa State.
The investigation and prosecution of the two bunkering ships and their crew members were being diligently coordinated by Enisuoh and Head, Investigation, IGP-STPIB, Mr. Omar John Sini, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP).
It was gathered that MT Harbor Spirit and members of her crew have since been arraigned in court on Friday, March 1st, 2024.
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Customs

Customs gives importers of improperly imported vehicles soft landing

Wale Adeniyi, CGC
— announces 90-day window to pay import duties with 25 percent penalty
The Eyewitness Reporter
The Nigeria Customs Service has bent backward to give a soft landing to importers of vehicles whose vehicles were detained by the customs over improper documentation and undervaluation.
Acting on the Ministry of Finance’s instructions, the Customs has given a 90- day window for the vehicles under that category to pay the required customs duty in addition to a 25 percent penalty and take delivery of their consignments.
According to the statement by the service, those whose vehicles were seized and condemned will not enjoy this grace as they have forfeited their consignments to the Federal Government.
“All vehicle owners, Importers/Agents seeking to regularize import duties on their vehicles are required to apply to the Zonal Coordinators (Zones A, B, C, D) and CAC FCT Command.
“They must submit the necessary available documents and process Vreg in line with the Federal Ministry of Finance directives for the registration of imported motor vehicles.
“Valuation and assessment of the vehicles will be carried out using the VIN valuation method.
” Import Duty and a 25% penalty shall be paid in tandem with the import guidelines, procedures, and documentation requirements for used vehicles under the Destination Inspection Scheme in Nigeria (2013) and the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023.
” Also, duty payments must be made using the Procedure Code specifically created for this exercise.
“This initiative reflects our unwavering commitment to facilitating compliance. We encourage all stakeholders to capitalize on this opportunity within the stipulated timeframe” the statement added.
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