By Steve Agbota
The Maritime Anti-corruption Network (MACN) and the Convention on Business Integrity (CBI) said a total of 455 corruption incidents were recorded at Nigerian seaports between 2019 and 2021.
Highlighting the details of the corruption incidents, 266 incidents of demands for large cash unreceipted payments were recorded in 2019, 128 in 2020 and 51 incidents have so far been recorded in 2021.
Speaking with newsmen at the end of its meeting in Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer of CBI, Olasoji Apampa, with the introduction of Help Desk, reports of corrupt demands by government officials from foreign ship captains dropped from 268 complaints in 2019 to 126 for the year 2020 and further dropped to only 51 incidents in 2021.
According to him, the impact of the Help Desk has created the assurances and improved perception among foreign ships calling at the nation’s seaports.
He said that tremendous achievements have been recorded for vessels at berth at the port terminals with less complaint from ship captains. He added that the alliance has commenced the process on addressing issues of cargo clearance.
“What we intend to do is the continuation of what has been achieved on the side of vessel clearance. In 2019, as we mentioned, there were 266 incidents of demand for large cash unreceipted payments.
“This dropped drastically to 128 in 2020 and has further dropped to only 51 incidents in 2021. So, it is our hope in 2022, that we can reduce this and start to take a bold step in cargo clearance by trying to reduce the incidence of inefficiency and corruption as well,” he said.
In the first quarter of 2022, he said the group would be training all the agency officials who board vessels and the standing task team, which comprise the department of State Services (DSS), the Nigerian Shippers Council, the Independent Corrupt practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) as well as the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) who were carrying out sting operations and ensuring proper implementation of NPPM adding that “we will help strengthen their work by doing so.”
“We want to also reexamine the digitalization of the port in the first quarter especially the quest for the single window in the context of the African free trade agreement. As regards this, we want to have a stakeholder forum on January 27, 2022.
“In the second quarter, we want to bring from the sub-region, all of the agencies that board vessels, and try to get some training courses for them so they would understand international best practice on how to relate with ships clearing, and to also relate with the consignee, freight forwarders in the clearing of cargoes,” he said.
He said the groups were partnering with the government to get agencies under it “to do things the right way”.
Demola Bakare, representative of ICPC on MACN/CBI Steering Committee reiterated the anti graft commitment to reduce all forms of corruption from the seaports.
Bakare maintained that with the progress recorded so far at the quayside, the Alliance will move to the cargo clearance section to weed out bad eggs from the sub sector.
On his part representative from the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Solomon D. Zaks said government is working round the clock to ensure that the ports record some level of progress against corrupt tendency.