The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has lodged a complaint with the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, alleging that the maritime police are engaged in unauthorized operations, wrongful arrests, and detentions of containers within and near the Lagos Ports.
In a letter dated August 22nd, addressed to the Inspector General, and signed by Ibrahim Tanko, the National Coordinator of NAGAFF’s 100% Compliance Team, the association issued a warning that they might take action to shut down the ports if swift action is not taken to address the issue.
The letter, titled ‘Petition against the Maritime Police for illegal operations, issuance of alerts to shipping companies, obstruction of consignments, container arrests, and detentions in and around the Lagos ports,’ expressed concern about the growing unrest around the ports due to these activities.
Tanko urged the Inspector General to intervene and rectify the situation, as failing to do so could lead to significant disruptions in business activities and further economic losses for the government. The letter conveyed the possibility of organizing a protest that could ultimately lead to a shutdown of the seaports if their grievances are not resolved.
The frustrated freight forwarders highlighted that the maritime police not only obstructed the release of containers from shipping companies but also went as far as detaining containers on the roads.
Tanko questioned the role of the maritime police as a revenue-generating agency, given that other government agencies, such as the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), managed to arrest containers carrying contraband, including arms and drugs, without relying on the assistance of the police.
The letter accused the maritime police of impeding the ease of conducting business at the ports by intercepting containers belonging to freight forwarders on the roads. These containers would then be redirected to certain offices where significant amounts of money were allegedly extorted from the freight forwarders.
Tanko expressed dismay over the undue interference, intimidation, and unnecessary arrests and detentions of freight forwarders who were attempting to operate within the bounds of the law. These actions, he claimed, have led to the closure of businesses and, in some tragic cases, contributed to health-related problems or even death among freight forwarders due to these excruciating activities of the maritime police.
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