Days after the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority and the Lagos State Government commenced the clearing of shanties along the port access roads, the NPA has said there is an increasing extortion along the access roads of the Lagos and Tin Can Island Port Complexes.
This was contained in a statement on Tuesday by NPA.
The authority had between July 16 and 18, rid the port corridor of shanties and illegal structures which harboured criminal elements that perpetrated these acts of extortion.
The Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, during the clearing of the shanties, lamented that these acts of extortion and allied illegalities are injurious to trade facilitation.
“Trade facilitation is our core function and we cannot allow these nefarious characters make nonsense of the gateways to the national economy which the ports constitute,” he said.
In the statement, the NPA boss vowed to deal with any staff member involved in the extortion.
Bello-Koko said, “We had in the past visited punitive measures on of our staff who were complicit in such unethical practices, and I want to reiterate that once we are confronted with evidence of any our staff involved in these acts of sabotage, we would sanction them in line with the public service rules and our conditions of service which has zero tolerance for such malfeasance.”
The statement added that Bello-Koko had whilst receiving the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Idowu Owohunwa, earlier this month at the NPA headquarters, enlisted the support of the police in tackling the extortion menace.
The statement quoted Bello-Koko as specifically saying that the jurisdictional rule that restricts the powers of the Port Authority Police Command to the port premises, is the more reason the agency is calling for increased synergy between PAPC and officers of the Lagos State Police Command”.
According to the statement, the NPA MD had earlier met with the leadership at the various levels including the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Navy, Federal Roads Safety Corps and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority stressing the need to collectively nip the menace of extortion in the bud.
It added that the NPA under Koko had completed the perimeter fencing of the Tin Can Island Port to curb unauthorised access to the port premises.
The statement read in part, “The sanity achieved by this measure is localised within the port whilst majority of these illegalities happen along the port access road which is not within the NPA’s purview.
“The authority’s fact finding has identified flash points of extortion ranging from 500 naira to as high as 5,000 naira and the mode of perpetration.
“The authority however solicits the collaboration of sister government agencies operating along the port corridor to sustainably tackle this menace that is impeding ease of doing business around our ports.”