Crime: NPA, LATSMA, Demolish Shanties Along Lagos Ports Access Road; Battles Extortionists

By Stephen Ubanna

For years and criminal elements  hiding at  the illegal Kiosks, Container shops and aband abandoned trailers in the cover  of doing business  at the shanties  along the Oshodi –Apapa  Expressway  to the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tincan  Island, Port Terminal Multi-services Limited and Kirikiri Lighter , KLT, phases I and II, have turned to extortionists of inbound and outbound and trucks  and other motorists.

The Value News findings shows the  extortion of the  inbound and outbound trucks laden with cargoes ranges between  N500.00 to N5,000.00, depending on their mode of their operation at the time. Port users may have cried out over the large scale extortions to the hearing of Mohammed Bello-Koko, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority,NPA, who was said had raised alarm and   put the necessary machinery in motion to clear the mess.

An aggrieved Bello-Koko,  had said  that the operations  the extortionists along the  access road to the ports is coming  on ‘’the heels  of the clearance  operations  which  the Authority   undertook between July 16, 2023 and July 18, 2023,  to rid the Lagos ports corridor of  the shanties harbouring the criminal elements who extort  money from Trucks driver, and other motorists.

The NPA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, has every reason to demolish the shanties around the Tincan Island ports corridors as there are no such shanties around the neighbouring Autonomous port of Benin, Cotonou, Benin Republic or ports in the other West and Central African countries to make nonsense of their  port facilities.

Bello-Koko, the NPA, CEO, may have hit the nail on the head when he said that ‘’these acts of extortions being perpetuated along the Lagos ports access road and the other allied illegalities associated with the extortion tendencies   are ‘’injurious to trade facilitation’’ which is the core responsibility of the Authority and that it will no longer allow such questionable characters to make mockery of the water ways to the nation’s economy which the ports constitute.       

  He had said that the Authority’s security personnel could achieve the feat of forcefully demolishing the shanties and forcefully driving out the food sellers and other people allegedly occupying the illegal structures in the shanties with the Collaboration of other security agencies personnel.

NPA, latsma Demomolist Shanties

  The Value News learnt that prior to the mobilization of bull dozers to the site, under heavy tight security to forestall attack during and after the clearance operation of the shanties, NPA, alongside the Lagos state Traffic Management Authority, LATSMA, were aid to have served one month notice to the owners of the Kiosks, Container shops and abandoned trailers as there will be a clean- up exercise after the expiration of the notices.

They may not have taken the warning serious, believing that the NPA Management would not take any   action at the expiration of the notices as was the case in the past. They got it wrong. This is because, Bello-Koko, the NPA, helmsman was determined to make the difference and to prove that he is  a man of his words and that he cannot say what he cannot do.

Unknown to the occupants, of the illegal structures found at the Tincan Island shanties, leading to the Apapap port which handles over 75% of the volume of cargoes coming into the Nigerian ports, on a yearly basis, had taken advantage of  IdowOwohunwa, the Lagos state Commissioner of police, visit to the Authority Headquarters to solicit for the state Police Command support to demolish the shanties.

In seeking the support of the Lagos state Police Command  and increased synergy between the officers  of the  Command and the Port Authority Police Command , Bello-Koko,  was said to have cited  ‘’the jurisdictional  rule that  restricts  the powers  of Port Authority  Command to the port premises,                            which calls for the intervention of  the   state Police Command Commissioner whose officers are everywhere the state  to effectively  stop the extortionists  menace by  providing the security to facilitate the clearing of the shanties habouring the hoodlums.

Bello-Koko, who has started his career in life as a  banker  and now a technocrat , may have opened up when he received   Owohunwa, the Lagos state Commissioner of Police earlier in his office  at  the NPA Headquarters  where he was said to have enlisted   the support  of the Force  in tackling  the menace  of extortionists of inbound and outbound  of Trucks along  the port access road  to the Lagos ports.

CP Owohunwa Visit To NPA Corporate headquarters In Marina, Lagos

 Until, the NPA, Managing Director, held talks with the Lagos state Police Command boss, to fine-tune strategies on how to demolish the shanties during the ler visit to the Authority’s Headquarters, he was said to have earlier met with the Leadership of other security agencies in the state, at various levels.

Among the security agencies Chiefs met in the state were those of  the Nigerian Army,  , Navy and the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC,  including  the Lagos state  Traffic Management Authority , LASTMA, where he was said to have stressed the need  ‘’to collectively  nip the menace of extortion along the Lagos port access road to the bud’’.

The NPA boss had said that on the eve of the Lagos port corridor clearance operations carried out in collaboration with the   Lagos state government, the Authority had visited punitive measures on some of its   staff who were implicated   such unethical practices.

 He may have sent a message to the entire NPA Staff to watch their steps, noting that once the current Management of NPA, under his Leadership are confronted   with ‘’credible evidence of any staff involvement  in these acts of economic sabotage , appropriate punishment would be meted on him  in line  with the public service  rules and conditions of service which  has ‘’zero tolerance for such malfeasance’’.

 Bolaji Oreagba , General Manager, LASTMA, who could not hide his feelings had said that it was good the shanties were destroyed, noting that  it didn’t  only constitute  health and safety risks  along the port access road  but also served  a  haven  for criminals who used such  locations  as hideouts to rob unsuspecting victims.

He was emphatic that the area is becoming a breeding ground for thieves and other miscreants and hoodlums who on a daily basis to extort money from Trucks drivers, motorists and thus impede, the free flow of traffic along the ports access road.

Mohammed Jamil Khali, NPA General Manager, Security, reportedly said that the exercise was long overdue, noting that the Authority carried out radio jingles and enlightenment Campaigns aimed at educating the public on the need for the clean- up exercise.   

As a prelude to tightening up security at the ports, Bello-Koko, and his Management Team, had ‘’completed the perimeter fencing of the Tincan Island port to curb unauthorized access to the port premises’’. The project was said to have been started by Hajia  Hadiza Bala-Usman, immediate past Managing Director of NPA and now Special Adviser To President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Policy Coordination.    

Although, Bello-Koko and his Management Team has completed the perimeter fencing of the Tincan Island port, his  major worry, remains   the actual illegalities which  are committed by the hoodlums  along the port  access road  which is not  within the Authority’s ‘s purview still flourishes on a daily basis.

 This may have informed why he had repeatedly said that the state Police Command and the other security agencies personnel need to come to the support of the ports Police Command and the internal security personnel   to stop these extortionists visit on inbound and outbound trucks laden with Containerised cargoes   around the Lagos ports corridor to   enhance trade facilitation.

  Many believe that with the demolition of the shanties, which had been a hideout for the criminal elements over the years to perpetuate their extortionist tendencies, around the Lagos ports environment, Trucks driver and motorists plying the Osodi-Apapa Express way can now heave a sigh of relief.               

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