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Maritime Police accuse  NPA, Customs, Shippers’ Council of colluding with freight forwarders to perpetrate corruption at ports

  —- 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.

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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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