Corruption Risk Assessment Report throws ports into panic
…Agents flee Nigeria
The Corruption Risk Assessment Report in Nigerian Ports presented at a stakeholders meeting penultimate Thursday in Lagos by a consortium, including the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP), has thrown certain industry operators into panic, SHIPS & PORTS DAILY can report authoritatively.
The Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption (TUGAR) was one of the bodies that participated in commissioning the study that produced the report.
The study was supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Checks by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY at the ports revealed that, since the report was made public, the jitters have gripped quite a number of operators, notably personnel of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), the State Security Service (SSS), the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), and National Quarantine Service (NQS).
Similarly, it was gathered that, Customs agents, who serve as liaison between consignees on the one hand, and the Customs and other agencies on the other, and are widely acknowledged as the greatest facilitators of graft in the system, have been running helter-skelter over the uncomplimentary contents of the report.
It was learnt that a number of Customs agents have gone into hiding as a device to escape possible arrest, remaining incommunicado, except to close associates, should the ICPC take the report further and prosecute specific cases of the wide-ranging indictment of the industry.
Some of these Customs agents have fled Nigeria, including a prominent vehicle importer–cum-dealer, who SHIPS & PORTS DAILY investigations revealed to be the linchpin in a notorious Customs duties fraud syndicate, which other members comprise Customs personnel and staff of certain shipping companies.
This particular agent and a number of his ilk that allegedly indulge in sharp practices, it was learnt, have relocated and are taking refuge in neighbouring West African countries, which in recent times have been exposed to become havens for suspected criminals seeking to lie low from justice in Nigeria.
The report of the Corruption Risk Assessment study on Nigerian ports, it would be recalled, identified ineffective administrative practices and weak institutions as major causes of corruption in the nation’s ports.
Other causes of corruption in the system, according to the report, include: widespread poverty, with over 70 per cent of Nigerians living below the poverty line; serious security problems; and lack of independent institution where corruption occurring in the ports can be reported.
The Corruption Risk Assessment Report in Nigerian Ports was unveiled at a stakeholders meeting , which had been called to validate the report and adopt it as a working document, especially as it includes Integrity Report, which recommends the way forward.