Shippers’ Council moves to eliminate corruption in cargo clearance

The Director, Consumer Affairs Department of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Ms Azuka Ogo, said that the council had been collaborating with many local and international organisations to eliminate corruption and bottlenecks associated with Customs processes and clearance of goods at the nation’s seaports.

Ogo made the disclosure at a two-day workshop on “Corruption Risk Assessment and Implementation of Integrity Plan in the Ports Sector” held yesterday in Lagos.

According to her, the council has equally held series of round table conferences to proffer lasting solution to the problems facing ports users.

Ogo said that the council would establish a port operation tool within the Single Window System to enhance the development of the port sector.

She said that there was need for a visible complaints desk or complaints mechanism.

“The NSC has been taking note of the outcome of a survey which shows that a large number of government officials request facilitation of payments in the ports.

“The request varies from port to port and the survey also shows refusals to pay, delays and allegations of irregularities of documentation or operations between 2014 and 2015,” she said.

In a message to the workshop, the Country Director, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Pa Lamin Beyai, said that the organisation was set up to strengthen accountability and respect for the rule of law.

Beyai was represented by the Programme Associate of UNDP, Segun Olusola.

He said that the UNDP was also working towards strengthening compliant with international standard and human rights and equitable access to justice.

The UNDP chief said that the organisation had capacity at both the Federal and State levels for coordination of law reforms and service delivery for justice in the sector.

He said that to eradicate corruption in Nigeria, the UNDP had introduced Corruption Risk Assessment (CRA) in 2011 in collaboration with some organisations.

Beyai said that the organisations were Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences (ICPC) and the Technical Unit for Governance Action Reform (TUGAR).

“UNDP has trained and certificated 67 Nigerian risk assessors.

“At the request of Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN), corruption risk assessment was conducted on six Nigerian ports such as Tin Can, Apapa, Warri, Onne, Port-Harcuort and Calabar ports.

“The survey has given opportunity to newly-certified assessors with the main purpose of intervention to improve CRA proposal for integrity in the port sector,” Beyai said.

Also speaking, the Director, Public Enlightenment, ICPC, Rasheedat Okoduwa said the workshop was part of anti-corruption intervention in Nigeria’s ports sector being executed by the commission.

Okoduwa said that the statutory powers of ICPC encompassed enforcement, prevention and educating against corruption.

She said the ICPC had power to examine the system and procedures of government agencies and review those systems that were corruption-prone.

“In three years running, ICPC had led collaboration involving BPP and TUGAR; playing a strong coordinating and secretariat role.

“We are currently in the process of implementing the prioritised components of the plan, of which this training workshop is one,” Okoduwa said.

The Chairman of MACN, Ceciliia Torbrand, said the body was established in 2011 to promote good corporate practices in the maritime industry for eliminating bribery, facilitating payments and stamping out corruption.

Torbrand said MACN was set up to implement and share best practices as well as create awareness of industry challenges faced by vessel owing companies and other port operators.

Torbrand said that MACN had been implementing collective action projects in Egypt, Nigeria, Argentina and Indonesia. 

SHIPS & PORTS DAILY reports that a 2013 Corruption Risk Assessment (CRA) report released by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption (TUGAR) and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) with the support of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Nigerian ports revealed that an importer or agent will require a minimum of 79 signatures of government officials to clear his/her goods at the nation’s gateways.

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