Corruption thrives in ports, says ICPC

NPA ports10 December 2013, Abuja – The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission yesterday confirmed that corruption is still thriving on a huge scale in Nigerian ports.

It also said huge red-tape is reported by stakeholders in all the ports.

The uncovering of large scale corruption is the thrust of a Report of Corruption Risk Assessment in the Ports Sector in Nigeria by the ICPC.

The report, which was presented by the ICPC Chairman, Ekpo Nta at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, was supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with additional funding from the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN).

The report reads in part: “Corruption is reported to be a legitimate and accepted tool to promote business interests. Gifts are accepted as normal and expected even in the port agencies.

“An example is the claim by Immigration officers to the Lagos Port Assessment Team that their law allows for receipt of gifts. This also borders on rationalization of corrupt conduct.

“No anti-corruption policy, standards or compliance legislation (of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act-FCPA or UK Bribery Act-UKBA type) exist in Nigeria. Companies are not required to put in place integrity system.

“In practice, the majority of foreign companies operating in Nigeria comply instead with the local rules and traditions in order to sustain their businesses.”

The report also indicated that there are huge administrative bottlenecks which are promoting corruption at the nation’s various ports.

The report added: “Huge red tape within agencies operating at the Ports is reported by stakeholders. Seventy (74) signatures are required in Onne from point of entering the port to the ship leaving the port.

“In Nigerian Customs Service alone, 10 signatures are required to clear a cargo. Similarly, 142 signatures are reported to be necessary for the same transaction in Lagos Ports (Tin Can and Apapa). There does not appear to be consistency in procedure or in its application in these business processes.

“Payment of facilitation money provides incentives for agency personnel to delay processes so that cargo incurs demurrage which compels agents and their customers to negotiate and offer gifts.”

In his address, the ICPC chairman explained why the assessment was conducted and how it was done.

Nta said: “When the project commenced in April, 2013, it seemed a Herculean task. The scope was challenging but the twenty Corruption Risk Assessors, led by a team of consultants and guided by the project Advisory Committee, have proven that when proper plans are put in place, even seemingly daunting tasks can be accomplished.

– The Nation

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