Few hours after the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala Usman said only seven government agencies are authorised to operate at the nation’s seaports, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) as stired confusion as it claimed it had the mandate of the Federal Government to operate at the ports.
In a press statement made available yesterday by the Head Public Affairs of NDLEA, Ofoyeju Mitchell, said the Federal Government through the NPA MD said eight agencies are to operate at the seaports.
He said, “The Federal Government has endorsed the operations of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) at the seaports.
This clarification was openly made by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, (NPA) Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman at a stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos on Wednesday sequel to the implementation of the executive order issued by the acting President, Yemi Osinbajo on the ease of doing business at the ports.
According to the MD, “eight agencies have been mandated and approved to operate within the ports. Agencies that are operating in the port apart from the approved list should be aware that they need to vacate whatever location they are currently occupying,” Ofoyeju statement reads.
But, contrary to Ofoyeju’s statement, the Nigerian Ports Authority had earlier released a statement saying the MD had streamline agencies to operate at the port to seven.
According to press statement made available to journalists and signed by Principal Manager, Public Affairs, Ibrahim Nasiru, the agencies to operate at ports include Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA); Nigerian Customs Service (NCS); Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA); Nigeria Police; Department of State Security (DSS); Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and Port Health Agency (PHA).
The NPA statement reads, “The Agencies streamlined to operate at the Ports according to Hadiza Bala Usman, are the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Department of State Security (DSS), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and the Ports Health.
“The MD specifically said at the press briefing that NDLEA will be invited to the port whenever their functions and services are required.
“NDLEA are required to come in and provide function as at when required,” the MD stated at the function yesterday.”
Ofoyeju to justify his claim also quoted the Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah (retd.) to equally affirmed that the Agency has the presidential mandate to work at the seaport.
In his words, “NDLEA has been cleared by the presidency to work at the seaports. This official position must be respected by all port agencies and stakeholders. Attempt to violate this directive shall be considered as a conspiracy to advance the nefarious activities of drug cartels to the detriment of our national security.”
It should be noted that section 8 (1b) of the NDLEA Act states clearly that the Agency shall work in collaboration with the Nigerian Customs Services in monitoring the movement of goods and persons in any customs area, customs stations, customs ports or customs airports and searching cargoes and incoming and outgoing vessels, including pleasure craft and fishing vessels as well as aircraft and vehicles and, when appropriate, searching crew members, passengers and their baggage.