ICPC study unravels cause of corruption at Nigerian ports

A Corruption Risk Assessment (CRA) in the Ports jointly carried out by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reform (TUGAR); and Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) has identified huge discretionary powers enjoyed and exercised by officials of government agencies as the major source of corruption at the nation’s seaports.
This revelation came to the fore yesterday in Lagos at a validation meeting organised by the three bodies for stakeholders.
Presenting the report, consultants to the CRA project, Constantine Palicarsky and Chibuzo Ekwekwuo said their study among other findings confirmed that government officials in the port not enjoy huge discretionary powers but are also able to delay indefinitely the required signing of documents without consequence, thus causing delay in processing a consignment.
Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Mr. Ekpo Nta, in his address at the event, said that the effort of his commission aimed at battling corruption at the nation’s seaport should not be misconstrued for a scheme to join the multitude of government agencies constituting nuisance in the cargo clearance process.

“Our primary objective for this exercise is to professionally study the seaport environment and offer solutions to corruption prone processes. We are not here to carve a niche or compete for space with other agencies in the port. Pursuant to the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act 2000, our mandate is to provide a holistic methodology with significant emphasis on prevention”, the ICPC boss stated.
He said the validation meeting was aimed at bringing together stakeholders and port operators to make input and validate the findings of the assessment report conducted by the three bodies.
The CRA, conducted in six major Nigerian Ports including the Lagos Port Complex (LPC) Apapa, Tincan Island Port, Port Harcourt, Onne, Warri and Calabar is a prevention tool which interrogates processes and procedures in a given system as well as identify areas which are vulnerable to corruption with a view to providing recommendations.
The ICPC boss said that the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) had identified Nigeria as one of the countries with corruption prone –systems in the port sector, this he said led to the selection of Nigerian ports for a pilot CRA.
The ICPS boss thanked the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for its support and collaboration which findings and recommendation he said would help improve the port industry once implemented.
Earlier in her opening remarks, the representative of TUGAR, Mrs. Lilian Anyanwu, said that the project came at the request of foreigners who expressed concerns at the cost of doing business in Nigeria and how corruption is impacting on their businesses.
The validation meeting brought together port operators and stakeholders comprising the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food & Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) and freight forwarders among others.