The Nigeria Police, Area E Command, has been alleged of unjustifiably arresting cargoes that are legally released from the ports by the Nigeria Customs on flimsy excuses.
The allegation was contained in a protest letter issued and addressed by the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) to Assistant Inspector General of Police, Maritime Police Command, Lagos State, Alhaji Alkali Baba Usman.
The association noted that besides arrest of cargoes, a lot of freight forwarders were being harassed and extorted in the course of discharging their lawful duty, saying that the unwholesome practices of some officers and men of the command could jeopardise the government’s policy on Ease of Doing Business.
‘’We wish to draw your attention to some unwholesome practices of some officers and men of the Area “E” Police Command which are capable of rubbishing the objectives of IGP vision of modern Policing and at the same time throwing a spanner in the works of the government’s policy on Ease of Doing Business.
‘’Reports reaching our National Headquarters show that some officers and men of the Area “E” Police Command, Festac Town have for long been unjustifiably harassing, extorting and in extreme cases, arresting freight forwarding practitioners and cargoes on flimsy excuses, thereby inflicting economic and psychological trauma on innocent Nigerians who are legally carrying out their legitimate duty for their daily bread and contributing their own quota to the economic well being of their fatherland. It is to state clearly that the trade corridor to Alaba and Aspamda are under siege.
‘’We are not oblivious of the general powers of the police to prevent, arrest and prosecute all manners of crime, we are however worried over the inherent abuses which are noticeable in the ways and manners these powers are being exercised, by some officers and men of the Area “E” of the Police Command, Festac. It is our belief that such powers should be exercised with greater restraint so as to respect the fundamental human rights, of Nigerians and uphold human dignity and bring honour and respect to the Nigeria Police.
‘’The activities and conduct of these officers, to say the least, are in breach of the ethics and code of the Police Force as well as rule of engagement and above all, international trade best practices. We are still at a loss as to why the same Police which has its officers at the Ports when Containers are being examined only to turn around to ambush the same consignments after they have been properly exited out of Customs controls of the Nigerian seaports. To us, this smirks of abuse of powers and a clear effort to thwart efforts aimed at facilitating trade. Our belief that the Police under your watch within the maritime domain of South West seaports and South East have the prerogative and a call to duty is to oversee safety and security of lives and properties,’’ NAGAFF said.
Calling on the police boss to investigate the allegation, the association said ‘’We therefore encourage to you to use the internal mechanism at your disposal to investigate this disturbing trend and arrest it as they are manifesting every negative traits which we know you detest. It is therefore our wish that you contact the AIG Zone 2, the Commissioner of Police Lagos State with a view to ensuring professionalism in the conduct of some of the Area “E” Police Command formation officers.’’