Ports corruption: Fear of sack grips NAFDAC, NPA officials

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Oluyinka Onigbinde

There are strong indications of panic over possible job loss among workers of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) officials over ongoing probe of corrupt practices in the nation’s seaports and airports. It will be recalled that 44 officials of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) were sacked for various acts of gross misconduct and corrupt practices.

Investigations by Nigerian NewsDirect revealed that the ongoing secret probe of NAFDAC and NPA officials is a follow-up to several petitions to the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC)  by some of the port users. The source disclosed that these corrupt officers are now moving from one Senator to another so that the anti-graft agency would suspend further investigation. “ These corrupt officers are determined but the extent to which the report by the EFCC would be an acid test for the anti-corruption campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari,” he said.

  The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) conference on reforming the Nigerian ports had revealed various degrees of corruption militating against the growth of the maritime sector

The President Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Prince Olayiwola Shittu in a telephone chat described the fight against corruption at the ports as a one-sided fight. This, he said was supposed to cut across all government agencies at the ports.

According to him, the corruption at the ports does not end with officials of NCS, it cuts across all the regulatory agencies at the ports because without their collusion it would be difficult to carry out corrupt practices.

“So all of them are corrupt especially freight forwarders as long they failed in their responsibilities, the hammer should fall on them as well, but I know many of them are sitting tight. as they know they can be the next victim,” he said.

In a swift reaction, the Public Relations Officer of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Mr. Ezenga Stanley said without a giver there can never be a receiver. He blamed the customs officers for incessant corruption at the ports.

However, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) Mr. Hassan Bello called for automation as a means of eliminating corruption at Nigerian ports.

He said that as soon as automation were introduced, corrupt practices at the ports would become a thing of the past.

 In his words “On the issue of corruption, we don’t need to arrest anybody. We just have to deploy systems and the corruption will disappear. If we have International Advanced Cargo Declaration for example which is the most transport technology you can find, there is no room for under-declaration or concealment.

“If you’re to import Mercedes Benz 2016, you can’t hide it because the name, weight, size and all the documents are all on that International Cargo Declaration System which the Nigerian Shippers’ Council will soon deploy. The more we are technology-savvy, the more problems we will solve in this sector” Hassan said.