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NDLEA, SON lobby to remain at ports, say 60% illicit items enter Nigeria via route

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Barely two days after an executive order was issued by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo for the management of Nigerian Ports Autourty to dislodge some government agencies from the various ports in the country, intensive lobbying has been initiated by some of the affected government agencies to give them a soft landing.

They claim that if the order is carried out as given, Nigeria stands to suffer more than 60 per cent influx of illicit goods through the ports into the country.

Prominent among the agencies behind the lobbying move include the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), whose top officials were said to have approached relevant commiitttees of the National Assembly to intervene, even as the NPA had already issued an implementation directive on the administrative order to its staff.

Ripples Nigeria reliably gathered that different emissaries from the two agencies affected by the policy had separately approached the law makers with what they termed “possible costs of the dislocation if applied strictly.”

They said the primary source of prohibited items, mainly, food and drug, as well as other sub-standard items is through the sea ports.

It was learnt that SON in particular, told the members of the House of Representatives Commiittee on Transportation that if the executive order was implemented to the letter, Nigeria would witness influx of more than 60 per cent of substandard products into the country.

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Also, NDLEA on its part told the commiittee that most their officials were at the ports to detect illicit drugs that come into the country, and halt them from finding their ways to the markets.

The agencies were said to have argued that being totally removed from their duty posts in the ports could see the country losing its gains from the intensive checks on the influx of dangerous drug into the country, since 2002.

Though the spokesman of SON, Sampson Ekong, in a chat refused to make any categorical statement on the issue, he said that the Organization being among government agencies is bound to obey any directive.

“We are a government agency, so if there is a directive from government that we should leave the port, ours is to obey, though it would come with so many implications,” he added.

Another source in SON said compliance with the directive will lead to having about 30 per cent staff being redundant, as most of their official activities are from the ports .

Also, officials of NDLEA confirmed that they had been issued official notice by NPA, through a circular dated Thursday Junec 8, 2017 and signed by the Managing Director of the NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman.

The letter was given to affected agencies after a stakeholders’ meeting, which was attended by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), the port concessionaires and other security operatives.

The circular reards in part:”From the review of operations at the ports, only seven agencies are mandated and have approval to operate in the port. Any agency that is operating in the port outside of these agencies are not required to and they should be aware that they need to vacate whatever location they are currently having within the port because the current approval and provision provides that they are not to operate in the port.”

“By this circular, we have issued the directives and our various officers have put in place the mechanism for implementing the executive order.

“The executive orders will enhance our operations and reduce the costs of doing business and improve the ease of doing business in our ports.”

But the NPA CEO was quick to add that the affected agencies, particularly NDLEA and SON, are not barred from coming into the ports to carry out any official duty from time to time, adding that such should be done without occupying any permanent stands.

On his part, Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali, said Customs has also started implementing the policy in all its inspecting and clearing duties on goods that pass through the ports.

He was quoted as assuring officials of Licensed Clearing and Forwarding Association of Nigeria in a meeting that Customs has all the units that could carry out the services of the agencies affected by the quit order.

 

 

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