By Godfrey Bivbere
A CARTEL comprising an illegal group known as Importers Association of Nigeria, IAN and men of Area B of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF are constituting a clog in the cargo delivery process at the port.
Vanguard Maritime Report gathered both parties have been operating for about a year now, targeting consignments heading for the popular Alaba International market.
Vanguard Maritime Report investigation reveals that the illegal group’s function is to identify targeted containers, block them and then inform the police who then deployed armed officers to escort such consignments to their station.
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Investigation revealed that officials from Area B of the NPF are attempting to involve their colleagues from Area E with the recent incident relating to a 40 footer consignment of electronics.
Vanguard Maritime Report gathered that a 40-foot container of electrical goods duly cleared by the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, the Standard Organisation of Nigeria, SON, Port Police, etc, was last Friday accosted by the group at First gate on its way to AlabaInternational Market. A source close to the police told Vanguard Maritime Report that the said container spent a night at the station and that all its content were emptied before being reloaded on Saturday at Area E.
Another source further disclosed that the consignee was also made to foot the N40,000 bill for offloading and reloading of the container.
Confirming the above to Vanguard Maritime Report, a group who identified themselves as “Concerned Agents” explained that some of their members were witnessed at the station during the examination.
The spokesman of the group, Friday Okoro, who spoke with journalists in Lagos, explained that the painful thing is that the consignment was duly existed from the port by the NCS after 100 per cent physical examination was done in the presence of SON, Marine police, and all the other government agencies involved in the examination of consignments.
Okoro, said when the truck was accosted by the illegal term at First gate, the truck driver assumed that they were from SON, called the consignee who in turn put a call to SON official that went to the scene.
He said on arrival, the SON officials were said to have asked the men who used their sienna vehicle to block the truck to identify their selves. The men responded that they were members of the taskforce of Importers Association of Nigeria, IAN and that they suspect that the consignment consists of substandard products.
Okoro further explained that the SON officials told the men that they have cleared that consignment and asked the driver to drive off, a directive that the driver obeyed.
He said at that point, the alleged IAN officials put a call to men of Zone B, who in turn called officials of Zone E who came in a van with heavily armed officials to stop the truck at Barracks stop and turn it back heading towards Festac.
He said that at Alakeja Bus stop during the return journey, the SON officials had requested that the container be taking to their office at Ikeja since it is alleged to be containing substandard goods but explained that the request was rejected by the police officers.
He pointed out that the importer had to pay for the extra day demurrage, for the un-stuffing and re-stuffing of the container with some of the products damaged by the rain that fell that day.
Efforts to get the reaction of the Area Commanders of the two Zones proved abortive.
However, a police source to Vanguard Maritime Report that it is the first time the IAN men are dragging in officers from Zone E, noting that the Area Commander had told the IAN men that until they provide him with authorisation for their action he would respond to future calls from them.
On why officers and men from the zone responded in the first place without such authorisation, the source said it is as a result of the call from Zone B and the claim of alleged incrimination goods in the consignment.
The source said that the quickly released that consignment when it was discovered that the allegations were false.