10 December 2013, Lagos – The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission has released a damning report detailing how Nigerian ports are allegedly swimming in corruption and manned by unqualified personnel.
The report, entitled ‘Corruption Risk Assessment in Nigerian ports’, was presented to the public yesterday in Abuja by the ICPC Chairman, Mr. Ekpo Nta.
The study was carried out in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme, Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms, the Bureau for Public Procurement, the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network, the Nigerian Ports Authority and others.
The assessment focused on ports in Calabar, Tincan, Apapa, Warri, Port-Harcourt and Onne to identify gaps and vulnerabilities to corruption in Nigerian ports and offer remedies to prevent the menace.
Nta said the ICPC was empowered under Section 6(b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 to “examine the practices, systems and procedures of public bodies and where, in the opinion of the commission, such practices, systems or procedures aid or facilitate fraud or corruption, to direct and supervise a review.”
Although he said the study was an assessment to prevent corruption and not an investigation, the ICPC boss stressed that the commission would not hesitate to prosecute corrupt persons.
Nta said, “Corruption Risk Assessment is a preventive tool but it goes hand in hand with the enforcement of sanctions against unacceptable behavior. The study conducted was an assessment to prevent corruption and not an investigation.
“While all is being done to prevent corruption, the commission will not hesitate to prosecute corrupt persons. In addition, we shall continue to deny corrupt persons the enjoyment of the proceeds of their crime through asset seizures and forfeiture.
“Nigeria, the international business community, clients and all other stakeholders want to see transparent and clean corruption-prone free processes at the ports.”
The ports were concessioned in 20006 , a development which ceded cargo handling operations to private terminal operators. The terminal operators have been variously accused by importers and licensed Customs agents of arbitrary charges and corruption.
The port system is however not the preserve of terminal operators alone, it houses officials of government agencies; including Customs.
*Godwin Oritse, Vanguard