The Acting Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko, said multiple checkpoints mounted by police and other security officials along the port access roads in Lagos is hampering the success of its electronic call-up system.
Koko said the multiple checkpoints were mounted on the port roads to extort money from port users. He said the illegal checkpoints are outside the control of the NPA.
Speaking during an interactive session organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Customs on Tuesday in Abuja, Koko also said that military personnel sometimes escort vehicles illegally in and out of the ports.
While responding to questions raised by the Chairman of the Committee, Leke Abejide, (ADC, Kogi), on the e-call up system, Koko said the checkpoints are within the red zone areas of the ports.
“The first issue is the problem of extortion. There are multiple checkpoints within what we call the red zone. Let me explain. So you have multiple checkpoints that are just springing up. And these checkpoints are manned by police officers. At times you find men in uniform — naval or military escorting vehicles illegally and the Lagos State Government has been very cooperative in terms of enforcement of the SOP as it relates to the truck call up system,” he said.
Koko said NPA was working with the Lagos State Government to resolve the gridlock along the port access roads.
“About last week we held a meeting with the Federal Road Safety Corps, LASTMA, the AIG marine, the CP and other officers in the police force and we decided that let them identify checkpoints and the essence of the checkpoints is not to interfere with the flow of traffic,” he said.
Responding to Koko’s submission, the committee chairman said, “We went round. We went to Lagos. We went around this country, all the ports. And everywhere we went to, all the Area Controllers, they are complaining about this. And even the transporters too complained that they spent an average of N250,000 to N300,000 to enter the ports. So it is not that we are hearing it from you.”
The committee resolved to invite the Controller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, to appear before the committee to discuss underpayment of duties and the resultant harassment of Nigerians by Customs officials.