Attempts by security operatives to rid the nation’s ports, particularly those in Lagos, of miscreants may have rubbed the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) the wrong way, as the association has threatened to withdraw its members from operating at the ports if the security raids of persons, including freight forwarding agents, at the ports persists.
A statement dated April 22, 2013, and signed by the NAGAFF National President, Mr. Eugene Nweke, decried the frequent raids of freight forwarding agents, describing these as unprofessional and inhuman.
“The use of coercive force through incessant raids is very unprofessional and inhuman to the extent of infringing on the rights of freight forwarders in the course of their legitimate business. At the moment a lot of innocent freights are languishing in various prisons, because of hard and difficult bail conditions,” Nweke lamented.
He said: “It may not be our intention to withdraw our members from the ports, but, if this humiliation, intimidation, harassment, extortion and uncivilised conduct should continue, we may do so in the interest of the life and liberty of freight forwarders in Nigeria.”
The NAGAFF boss accused government agencies at the ports of alleged neglect of duty, noting that, rather than take up responsibility to profile and manage those who enter and exit the ports, they subject freight forwarders in the course of their duty to intimidation and harassment.
“These government agencies instead of accepting the fact of negligence of duty have turned to use application of force on Nigerian freight forwarders as a tool to correct their inadequacies and in the process turned freight forwarders into strangers in their country… It is very sad that innocent Nigerian freight forwarders are unduly harassed, extorted, molested, intimidated, embarrassed, forcefully arrested and prosecuted in their own county in the course of earning legitimate living,” Nweke said.
He went on: “In the past, we do know that port pass was issued by the Nigerian Port Authority, Nigeria Customs Service hangs on duty card and even the port concessionaires put on identification cards. Where has all these gone to, if one may ask?”
Appealing to the Commissioner of Ports Authority Police Command (PAPC) to “develop a strategy of automated profiling of all persons coming into and exiting the ports through biometric approach” Nweke urged the Management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to assist the PAPC with funds to achieve this security project.