AIG Susan Akem
OpenLife Nigeria reports that in what seems a misunderstanding between Nigerian Shippers’ Council and Maritime Police Command over statutory responsibilities, Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Maritime Command has cleared the air on the Command’s duties through a statement signed by ASP Ehinmode, A. Rowland, Acting Police Public Relations Officer, Maritime Police Command, FHQ Annex, Lagos.
The clarifications are reproduced below unedited
The attention of the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), Maritime Police Command, Force Headquarters Annex, Lagos, AIG Susan U. Akem-Horsfall, B.Sc, MPA, LLB, LLM, BL has been drawn to a publication on the online portal of Daily Trend News of Wednesday 23rd August, 2023.
In the publication, it was reported that one Mrs Ifeoma Ezedinma, Director Regulatory Services of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council who represented the Executive Secretary/CEO, Mr Emmanuel Jime, at an event in Apapa, Lagos stated among other things that “the Nigeria Police is overstepping it bounds and that the Police does not have the right or authority to detain the cargo the Customs has already cleared. If Customs clears cargo, Police does not have the right or authority to detain the cargo.
If the Police have intel on the cargo, you can follow it to the final destination and check it there since Police have access everywhere, but not for them to congest our Ports or the access road. We see this problem on daily basis.
Every agencies have their responsibilities cut out for them, so we should interface with one another, harmonise and facilitate trade”.
The preceding statement by the Director is not only misleading but far from the truth and it has become imperative to put the records straight.
The duties of Nigeria Police Force as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended), Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015, the Criminal Procedure Code and Act, the Nigeria Police Acts and regulations 2020, and the National Inland Waterways Authority Acts No. 47 LFN 2004 clearly spelt out the duties and functions of the Nigeria Police Force.
It is important to note that, the Nigeria Police Force is a creation of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 214 of the Constitution established this and it conferred powers and duties on the police to wit, protection of life and property, protection of harbour, waterways, railways and the air field among others.
Hence, some of the statutory duties of the Police includes prevention and detection of crimes, apprehension of offenders, preservation of law and order, and the due enforcement of all laws and regulations.
Furthermore, a Police officer is empowered by the Police Act to detain and search any person he reasonably suspects of having in his possession or conveying in any manner, anything he has reason to believe to have been stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained.
Same goes for the Criminal Procedure Act which gives power to the Police to arrest any person found to have committed a crime, this is in addition to the National Inland Waterways Authority Acts No. 47 LFN 2004 which mandates the Police to provide buffer and protective support, helps the Authority to enforce its enabling NIWA Act 2004 LFN and Secures the waterways and the Authority’s vessels.
To this end, the Nigeria Police Force and all her subsidiary Commands and Formations, of which the Maritime Police Command is inclusive is statutorily empowered to carry out all lawful activities conferred on her including blockage, apprehension and detention of containers/cargos suspected to have contravened the law or conveying items that are considered contraband or things inimical to the security of the nation.
However, there are some unscrupulous persons within the ranks of these agencies working hand-in-hand with criminal elements and fraudulent syndicates to cripple the economy through corrupt practices and underhand dealings, hence, their nefarious and villainous publications, aimed at rubbishing the efforts of the Command in order to discourage them from dealing with the malaise.
There is the need to make things clear here that there are double-dealings going on at the Port which some staff of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and other regulatory agencies at the ports are aware of and does not want the police to unravel.
This they do in connivance with some other sister security agencies. The recent case of a 1x40ft container purportedly cleared by the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC), with documents duly signed by NSC official to be conveying two (2) used Toyota Hi-ace Buses, six hundred and fifty (650) used vehicle spare parts and engine which was intercepted by men of the Maritime Police Command on the 18th August, 2023 comes to mind.
Upon interrogation, the arrested suspects in connection with the container disclosed to the Police that the container was carrying different items, and when the container was opened at the Maritime Command Headquarters in the presence of journalist and pressmen, it was discovered to be carrying mayonnaise, Persian rugs amongst other concealed items.
It is therefore not far from the truth to say, there is conspiracy between some agencies at the port to sabotage the economy of Nigeria.
AIG Susan Akem-Horsfall stated in clear terms that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and all other maritime operators cannot stop the Police from performing her statutory duties, as the Maritime Police Command does not need their authority to investigate crimes. The command will give full attention to her duties that are incumbent on it by the laws of the land, especially as it relates to the nation’s maritime domain.
The Command will continue to work in synergy and collaboration with sister agencies and all operators within the sector to enhance government policy on ease of doing business.
Lastly, the AIG has emphatically stated that, the Command under her watch will not relent in fighting crimes being perpetuated at the port and every attempt at maligning personnel of the command through various false publications will not deter or hinder them from performing their constitutionally approved duties.