Speaking while receiving the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Marine Police at the Shippers’ Council headquarters in Apapa reccently, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Bar Hassan Bello reiterated the need for collaboration between the two agencies.
According to him, “We may need some enforcement or reinforcement. I think it is imperative that we do this within the context of the law,’’ Bello said, proactively preparing to hold the ace, should there be any form of resistance, in the course of carrying out ports regulatory assignments in the future.
He said that once in a while, the council officials would need the presence of the police while carrying out their statutory inspection duties.
“We need to talk about the support you are going to give us.
“We have received support from the terminal operators, shipping companies, clearing agents and other government agencies.
“We have interacted with many of them because we believe in stakeholders’ interaction.
“There will be those who would break the law and stop us from carrying out our legitimate duties, in spite of the fact that they know the law provides us with that obligation,’’ Bello said.
He said though Maritime Police was also a stakeholder in the maritime industry, “we still receive complaints against the police about inspection of cargoes cleared from the ports’’.
Bello said that the council had discussed this with the various police formations and such cases had been managed.
“Outside your general duty and under reasonable suspicion, the police may carry out search, if they think a crime is about to be committed or is being committed,’’ he said.
The executive secretary said that the council would also like the Maritime Police to provide the same duty rendered at the Inland Container Depots (ICDs) when the depots finally takes off.
Bello, however, said that the present government was diversifying the economy and “if there is problem with oil, the viable alternative is the maritime industry.
“There is more money to be made from the maritime industry than the oil sector.
“We are looking at the infrastructure, wealth creation, growth of the economy, employment and providing versatile international commerce.
“The role of shipper council is to provide equilibrium so that Nigerians will benefit from shipping,’’ Bello said.
The NSC, now performing ports regulatory function, was established in 1978 to look after the interest of Nigerian shippers.
A group picture of NSC and Marine Police officials at the visit.
In his remarks, Usman described the council and the Maritime Police as partners in the business of policing the Nigerian waters.
He said that with the synergy, they would be able to achieve the nation’s objective of policing the Nigerian waters and make impact on the council’s regulatory assignment.
The AIG said: “Crimes prevention and control in the waterways is vast. The challenges of the sea are enormous.
“The attention of government has not been really focused on that.
“We have also realized that our responsibility of policing the waterways cannot be carried out without seeking the support of the stakeholders.’’
Usman said that there was need to create conducive environment for those who were willing to use the waterways.
He explained that Maritime Police has a department that check the excesses of its officers and ensure that they carry out their assignments according to instruction.
“Once you want us to enforce regulation, we will be there to provide the necessary enforcement,’’ Usman said.