The House of Representatives, on Thursday, resolved to investigate the alleged unlawful and unwarranted extortions of Port users by Law Enforcement Agents at the Apapa Port, Lagos State.
The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Olusola Steve Fatoba, who commended Federal Government’s efforts towards improving ease of doing business in the country.
While frowning at the activities of the law enforcement agents at the port, he argued that it appears that there is a deliberate effort by some people to frustrate the efforts of the government because of their selfish interests.
The lawmaker, who solicited for the House intervention, observed that Apapa Port has been enmeshed in crisis and traffic gridlock over a long time which led to the establishment of a Presidential Task Team to restore law and order on the roads leading to the nation’s seaports.
According to him, the team of law enforcement agents comprising men of the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Traffic Management Agency and others are at the Port to maintain law and order and control vehicular movement in and out of the Port, particularly, movement of trucks going in to load and unload containers at the Port.
He further noted that the agents, who ought to maintain law and order at the Port, have now formed a ‘cartel’ in cahoot with unscrupulous staff of APM Terminals Apapa/Nigerian Ports Authority, extorting money from each truck operator.
“The amounts ranges from N200,000 to N300,000 to gain entrance into the Port, to load or offload containers and this ugly trend has been going on unabated for years but became worse after the Naval officers were removed from the operations as the sum of N60,000 to N100,000 were extorted when the Naval Officers were in charge of the operation.
“As a result of the activities of the law enforcement agents, a truck may spend up to two months before gaining access into the terminal which is causing a lot of hardships and huge increase in the cost of doing business which may inevitably lead to unrest and break down of law and order by the frustrated and oppressed truck operators,” he argued.
While expressing concern over the general perception, especially by importers, exporters and truck operators, he noted that the affected stakeholders assume that the problems are lingering because the leadership of the law enforcement agencies concerned were benefiting directly or indirectly from the crises, hence, there is no incentive for them to proffer enduring solution.
To this end, the House mandated its Committee on Works and Housing to investigate the matter with a view to finding a lasting solution to the suffering of the truck operators at the Port and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.