LPC: Adoption of ‘force’ may spread strike into other ports

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Prince Olayiwola Shittu

…As ANLCA plans for nationwide solidarity actions

Contrary to assurances of the Nigeria Police in Lagos, and that of the Apapa Port Manager that the authorities had broken up the eight-day freight forwarders induced work-stoppage at Apapa Port, the Maritime First may today authoritatively report, that the end of the strike may still not be in sight.

(L-R) National Treasurer- Alhaji Bojuri Akinsola, Acting Assistant National Secretary-Tope Ogungbemile, Zonal Secretary, West-Alhaji Liasu Oyekangu, National Financial Secretary- Dada Agubuzo, National Vice President- Emenike Nwokeoji, National President- Prince Olayiwola Shittu, Chairman, BOT- Chief Henry Njoku and Hon. Tony Iju Nwabunike.
(L-R) National Treasurer- Alhaji Bojuri Akinsola, Acting Assistant National Secretary-Tope Ogungbemile, Zonal Secretary, West-Alhaji Liasu Oyekangu, National Financial Secretary- Dada Agubuzo, National Vice President- Emenike Nwokeoji, National President- Prince Olayiwola Shittu, Chairman, BOT- Chief Henry Njoku and Hon. Tony Iju Nwabunike.

The strike action, may rather, as a result of the forceful approach adopted to quell it, now spread to other ports, with dire consequences.

The high command of the nation’s freight forwarders and Customs brokers at an emergency meeting held on Wednesday while the police and the  Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) were celebrating quelling the strike, decided that not only should the Apapa Chapter of the units on strike be backed by monies, the strike should now spread, to  presently peaceful ports, in solidarity with those at the Lagos Port Complex.

Registrar/CEO of CRFFN- Sir Mike Jukwe (L), Vice President –Emenike Nwokeoji (M) and National President-Prince Olayiwola Shittu.
Registrar/CEO of CRFFN- Sir Mike Jukwe (L), Vice President –Emenike Nwokeoji (M) and National President-Prince Olayiwola Shittu.

Joe Sanni, the Director of Media and Publicity of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), told the Maritime First Thursday morning, that the body was particularly miffed with an approach, which exemplified force, rather than dialogue.

“On the on-going, sustained withdrawal of services by members at the Apapa Port complex, the association stoutly rose in support of the action, and called for a total involvement of all chapters, spread across the nation, in solidarity with the Apapa Chapter’s strike action” Joe said, adding that for this reason, “all chapters”, would subsequently embark on peaceful withdrawal of services, in solidarity with those in Apapa.

The body assured Nigerians that they would defend the nation’s economic interest against those who believe that, “when Nigerians are hungry, they will go back to work.” 

“This unsolicited, unwarranted and undeserved comments, infuriated protesters on end. Rather than douse the embers of anger arising from the barefaced fleecing of Nigerians of their hard earned money, … they rely on, aggravating the situation. 

“An all-encompassing strike is still in the offing, which is likely to commence very soon in all the ports”, he stated further, adding that National officers have pledged various sums of money in order to pursue the action to its logical conclusion. 

The meeting which was attended by the Registrar of Council for Regulations of Freight Forwarders of Nigeria ( CRFFN), Sir Mike Jukwe  in according with the Act of parliament establishing it, to witness proceedings of Associations registered by it; also resolved to challenge the authority of the Standard Organization of Nigeria ( SON) to continue its collection of levies from the ports, without remitting it to the Federation account. 

“Similarly the shipping companies and terminal operators would similarly “be checkmated in their inordinate desire to continuously extort Nigerians”, the association indicated further.

No person at the Nigerian Shippers Council was willing to comment on the development, except a man in the administration who pleaded for anonymity because he was not authorized to say anything.

“Now, it looks like what the Council was not allowed to do via dialogues, the freight forwarders are ready to achieve by force”, he said, praying his hope, that it would not come with avoidable consequences. 

It would be recalled that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa, Mr. Akeem Smith yesterday assured port users including importers and agents of their safety and security in the port, saying the Force has been placed on high alert to check any breach of law and order as the nation’s major seaport re-opened for business activities after eight days of blockade by some clearing agents.

And speaking in the same vein, the Lagos Port Manager, (LPC) Mr. Nasir Anas Mohammed had squall assured that the port was now freed.

“The port is now open and people are free to come in and transact their business,”, Mr. Nasir Anas Mohammed said, pointing out that the Police Force and other security operatives had been put on alert to provide adequate security to anyone willing to transact business at the port.

“We have informed the agents that while they have the right to protest, they do not have the right to blockade the port or disturb others who have legitimate transactions to carry out at the port.

“So we have informed them and they have also seen reason with us. We assure all port users that their security is guaranteed. The Police and relevant security operatives have been duly informed and they have assured that adequate security will be provided to all port users.

“Trucks are free to come into the port, load and exit without entertaining any fear,” the Port Manager, on Wednesday, had said further.

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