Some regulatory agencies at the Ports have given reasons why they should remain at their duty posts. They said as a result of their critical functions in preventing life-threatening imports, it would not be in the best interest of the country to be asked to leave the ports with other not-so critical agencies.
The affected bodies include the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Directorate of Naval Intelligence, Nigerian Plant Quarantine Services, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, among others.
Defending the re-admittance of NAFDAC at the Ports, its Port Head of Operations, Mrs. Maureen Ebigbeyi, said on the sideline at a workshop on ‘Maritime Reforms, that although NAFDAC was asked to leave the ports at the height of the reforms in an effort to make the seaports efficient, cheaper and more user friendly, the country paid heavily for it.
She said the action opened the country to wanton importation of harmful goods and substances. She said NAFDAC has a mandate to ensure: that no regulated product is allowed into the country except it is certified to be safe. But today we see false declarations almost on a daily basis of items by importers which are not good for the nation. It can be left to the imagination the danger the citizenry would have being exposed to if that policy of excluding NAFDAC from the ports was continued.
“We see false declaration daily. Recently we intercepted 13 containers of drugs with wrong dosage and strength in Port Harcourt that was wrongly declared as clothing material. The nation was saved because of the vigilance and intelligence of our agency. If that huge number of unwholesome drug was allowed into the country who knows who may have been endangered by the dishonest actions of a few business men”.
The NAFDAC chief explained that before the touted Port Reforms can make sense and be acceptable, the Nigerian Custom Service (NCS) must be proactive and shun all forms of malfeasance at inspection to the barest minimum. She suggested that only critical agencies should be involved in cargo clearance, unlike what is obtainable now where non critical agencies clog the clearance process discouraging the need to do thorough inspection.
Earlier, Maritime Lawyer, and former President, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Olisa Agbakoba questioned the rationale behind the multiplicity of agencies at the ports and their competences at curtailing crime.