Mr. Stephen Chigozie Ibe, the national president of TPACI.
Story by Dili Utomi
In Nigeria today, the biggest problem that is affecting virtually every aspect of our national life and that is seemingly threatening to tear the nation apart right from its fabrics is collectively agreed to be corruption. In the maritime sector, operators have consistently cried out mostly out of frustration to the authorities to try and put in mechanisms that will reduce to its barest minimum, all acts of currupt practices, but there seems to be no political will on the part of government to tame this hydra-headed monster as the cry has continued and the effects of corruption are seen every where in the country.
We engaged Comrade Stephen Chigozie Ibe, the national president of the The Pactriots Anti-Corruption Initiative (TPACI) on the thorny issue of corruption within the port with particular reference to the maritime police to seek his opinion on the matter. He said that his association has on several occasions written to the inspector-general of police over the matter and also visited the Force Criminal Investigation Department, Alagbon, complained to the deputy inspector-general, maritime police at the Kam Salem house and that all these seem not to have any effect. “These are the first of the strategies that we are adopting, we may soon go to the second strategy”, he said. “The maritime police is usually available when all containers are examined at the ports, but as soon as the container is about to leave the port , it is usually being blocked again at the source with the police asking the shipping company or terminal operator not to release the container until the owner goes to answer some questions. This results in the owner visiting Kam Salem house and is usually asked to pay a Hundred Thousand Naira (#100,000.00) for a 40 foot container or Fifty Thousand Naira (#50,000.00) for a 20 foot container before he is given a letter to the shipping company or terminal operator for the process of releasing the container”.
He said that he is talking as both an importer and a freight forwarder and that on Thursday, they visited the commissioner of police, Ports and made the same complaints with hope of having some reprieve from the actions of the port police. He recognises the fact that though, there seems to be no effect right now on this matter as the practice has continued unabated, but that they will continue to bring the matter to the front burner as the CP police has promised to look into all their complaints and that again the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICOC) is now working with his organisation and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is also on the verge of joining them in the crusade.
Mr. Ibe said that he has a lot of documented evidence of the sharp practices and activities of the Maritime police as he hopes that the EFCC will as a matter of urgency work with them to stem this tide of corrupt practices.
The TPACI boss lamented that the present abysmal state of Nigeria, socially and economically is a direct result of the effects of corruption and that they on their part have decided that the corruption particularly within the Maritime police must stop. He appeals to Nigerans to think about the effects of their intended actions before taking those actions so that the country might move forward through the right direction.
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