‘Absence of onboard security, super cargo fueling drug trafficking at ports’
MWUN chides NPA, NIMASA on insecurity at ports
The termination of services of onboard security men and tally clerk on vessels as well as the absence of super cargo is described as being responsible for movement of hard drugs and narcotic substances into Nigerian ports.
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) made the disclosure following the continuous incarceration of 12 dockworkers by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) out of the 17 arrested onboard MV Cha Yaree Naree and MV Karteria both at Greenview Development Nigeria Limited (GDNL), at the Lagos Port Complex (LPC) for the importation of 32.9 kilograms of cocaine worth over N9.5 billion in street value, since October 13, 2021.
Recall that the services of onboard security and tally clerks were terminated in 2015 by the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) as directed by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, even though the affected workers were later paid off in 2019.
President-General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, who spoke to The Guardian, said onboard security men were critical in checking insecurity and illegal trade facilitation at the ports.
According to him, onboard security men perform duties that include, control of people and equipment to and from the vessel; searching of personnel and/or baggage; reporting of security incidents or breaches and assisting with the control of emergency situations.
He, however, lamented that it was unfortunate that the onboard security men and tally clerk, which are recognised by the International Labour Organisations (ILO) Law on Maritime, were disengaged in Nigeria, thereby fuelling importation of illegal hard drugs into the country.
“We have not experienced this kind of thing in the past, it is a surprise to us that it is becoming the order of the day where vessels coming into the ports are caught with cocaine and other narcotic substances. If there are security men onboard the vessels, there would not be transportation of hard drugs and narcotics at the ports of loading into Nigeria,” he said.
Adeyanju also argued that criminal elements have taken advantage of the defunct super cargo operations in Nigeria to perpetrate their crimes in the nation’s seaports.
According to him, super cargo identifies all the cargoes meant for Nigeria, Togo and other countries, as well as operations onboard the vessels.
He, however, called for the reintroduction of the super cargo and the reintegration of onboard security men on vessels to help checkmate the flow of hard drugs into the country, noting that cartels have used Nigeria to trade hard drugs.
Speaking on the detained dockworkers, Adeyanju said the union would no longer accept the injustice meted on the dockworkers, as the importer, shipping companies and those involved in the crime should be hunted and arrested.
He said keeping innocent dockworkers incarcerated was against the law, while urging the NDLEA to carry out proper investigation to fish out the culprit and release the illegally detained dockworkers.
He, however, said the union would partner with the NDLEA and other port stakeholders to raise awareness and sensitise dockworkers and other port users, noting that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) should ensure the registration of credible dockworkers to avert illegalities in the port system.