—- vow no agency can stop them from intercepting exited containers
“AIG Susan Akem-Horsfall stated in clear terms that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and all other maritime operators cannot stop the Police from performing her statutory duties, as the Maritime Police Command does not need their authority to investigate crimes”
The Eyewitness Reporter
The face-off between the Maritime Police Command of the Nigeria Police and other sister agencies in the maritime industry seems to be degenerating to confrontation as the authority of the marine police has pointedly accused other sister agencies at the ports of being complicit in perpetrating corruption at the Port.
Specifically, the maritime police command alleged that some unscrupulous elements in the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Council are hand-in-gloves with corrupt freight forwarders to fly containers at the port.
It could be recalled that Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim, the National Coordinator of the 100 percent Compliance team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has accused the maritime police of unwholesome practices and indiscriminate blocking of legally exited containers from the ports with the purpose of extortions.
In the petition he sent to the Inspector General of Police, Egbetokun Olukayode, on behalf of other irate freight forwarders, Tanko Ibrahim, called for the intervention of the police IG to stave off possible disruption of port operations as aggrieved freight forwarders have vowed to protest the alleged high handedness and extortionist activities of the Maritime Police.
The position of the protesting freight forwarders was supported by the Nigerian Council which said that the maritime police have no right to stop exited containers in order not to cause congestion at the Port.
Rather, the council advised the maritime police to trail the suspected consignment to the warehouse of the importer to carry out any necessary checks.
However, this intervention seemed not to sit well with the authority of the maritime police as Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), Maritime Police Command, Force Headquarters Annex, Lagos, AIG Susan U. Akem-Horsfall, fired back.
In her reaction to the ensuing controversy between the police and the freight Forwarders with other sister agencies, AIG Akem-Horsfall, quoting the relevant Police Act and Nigeria constitution, said the police has the statutory powers to intercept at any point and place, containers suspected of any infraction.
She said the police do not need the permission of any sister agency to stop any suspected consignment at any point in time.
She then vowed that no amount of gang-up, intimidation and blackmail by freight forwarders and their cohorts in other sister agencies at the ports would deter the police from carrying out its constitutional duties.
In the statement signed by ASP Ehinmode Rowland, Acting Police Public Relations Officer, Maritime Police Command, FHQ Annex, Lagos, AIG Susan Akem-Horsfall said the Maritime Command, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and other stakeholders at the ports have over the years enjoyed seamless relationship and cohesion devoid of friction.
But she lamented that there are some unscrupulous persons within the ranks of these agencies working hand-in-hand with criminal elements and fraudulent syndicates to cripple the economy through corrupt practices and underhand dealings, “hence, their nefarious and villainous publications, aimed at rubbishing the efforts of the Command in order to discourage them from dealing with the malaise.
“There is the need to make things clear here that there are double dealings going on at the Port which some staff of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and other regulatory agencies at the ports are aware of and do not want the police to unravel. This they do in connivance with some other sister security agencies” the AIG alleged.
“The attention of the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), Maritime Police Command, Force Headquarters Annex, Lagos, AIG Susan U. Akem-Horsfall, B.Sc, MPA, LLB, LLM, BL has been drawn to a statement credited to one Mrs. Ifeoma Ezedinma, Director Regulatory Services of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council who represented the Executive Secretary/CEO, Mr. Emmanuel Jime, at an event in Apapa, Lagos stated among other things that “the Nigeria Police is overstepping it bounds and that the Police does not have the right or authority to detain the cargo the Customs has already cleared.
” If Customs clears cargo, Police does not have the right or authority to detain the cargo. If the Police have intel on the cargo, you can follow it to the final destination and check it there since the Police have access everywhere, but not for them to congest our Ports or the access road. We see this problem on a daily basis.
“Every agency have their responsibilities cut out for them, so we should interface with one another, harmonise and facilitate trade”.
“The preceding statement by the Director is not only misleading but far from the truth and it has become imperative to put the records straight.
“The duties of Nigeria Police Force as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended), Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015, the Criminal Procedure Code and Act, the Nigeria Police Acts and Regulations 2020, and the National Inland Waterways Authority Acts No. 47 LFN 2004 clearly spelled out the duties and functions of the Nigeria Police Force.
” It is important to note that, the Nigeria Police Force is a creation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Section 214 of the Constitution established this and it conferred powers and duties on the police to wit, protection of life and property, protection of harbour, waterways, railways and the airfield among others.
“Hence, some of the statutory duties of the Police include prevention and detection of crimes, apprehension of offenders, preservation of law and order, and the due enforcement of all laws and regulations.
“Furthermore, a Police officer is empowered by the Police Act to detain and search any person he reasonably suspects of having in his possession or conveying in any manner, anything he has reason to believe to have been stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained.
” Same goes for the Criminal Procedure Act which gives power to the Police to arrest any person found to have committed a crime, this is in addition to the National Inland Waterways Authority Acts No. 47 LFN 2004 which mandates the Police to provide a buffer and protective support, helps the Authority to enforce its enabling NIWA Act 2004 LFN and Secures the waterways and the Authority’s vessels.
“To this end, the Nigeria Police Force and all her subsidiary Commands and Formations, of which the Maritime Police Command is inclusive is statutorily empowered to carry out all lawful activities conferred on her including blockage, apprehension and detention of containers/cargos suspected to have contravened the law or conveying items that are considered contraband or things inimical to the security of the nation.
“The recent case of a 1x40ft container purportedly cleared by the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC), with documents duly signed by NSC official to be conveying two (2) used Toyota Hi-ace Buses, six hundred and fifty (650) used vehicle spare parts and engine which were intercepted by men of the Maritime Police Command on the 18th August 2023 comes to mind.
” Upon interrogation, the arrested suspects in connection with the container disclosed to the Police that the container was carrying different items, and when the container was opened at the Maritime Command Headquarters in the presence of Journalists and pressmen, it was discovered to be carrying mayonnaise, Persian rugs amongst other concealed items.
” It is therefore not far from the truth to say, there is a conspiracy between some agencies at the port to sabotage the economy of Nigeria.
“AIG Susan Akem-Horsfall stated in clear terms that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and all other maritime operators cannot stop the Police from performing her statutory duties, as the Maritime Police Command does not need their authority to investigate crimes.
“The command will give full attention to her duties that are incumbent on it by the laws of the land, especially as it relates to the nation’s maritime domain.
“The Command will continue to work in synergy and collaboration with sister agencies and all operators within the sector to enhance government policy on ease of doing business.
“Lastly, the AIG has emphatically stated that the Command under her watch will not relent in fighting crimes being perpetuated at the port and every attempt at maligning personnel of the command through various false publications will not deter or hinder them from performing their constitutionally approved duties” the statement concluded.