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SILHOUTTE: APM Terminals 17th Anniversary, National Security And Economy (1)


Yesterday, APM Terminals Apapa one of the companies that won a substantial operational area of the Lagos premier port in the 2006 concession programme celebrated its 17th anniversary.

During the event, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), two critical agencies involved in supervising the port reforms and concession thumbed up the terminal operator for purportedly fulfilling the concession agreement.

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While port gist and the grapevine suggests that APM Terminals may have been involved in activities that directly undermine the national security and economy, through covert operations, the terminal has provided a consistent annual growth analysis of how it has grown the Nigerian economy, developed infrastructure, raided the gross domestic product (GDP), this is the first time the federal government has croaked the loudest about its supposed successes and its patriotic credentials, thus accordding APM Terminals a Vote of Confidence, which literally passes for a golden handshake.

Coming from NPA and BPE, the two critical agencies involved in supervising the port reforms and also presided over the dismantling of the national behemoth through the 2006 concession programme, and which has since been divested of transparency and integrity, perhaps it is just and morally imperative to peep into some of the terminal operator’s behind the scene activities, as a further help to understanding NPA and BPE’s posturing; and its impact on the destruction or preservation of national values.

A vote of confidence cannot be taken for granted. Apart from rumours and glimpses of  reports about APM Terminals corporate behavior which alleges the aiding of questionable ship and cargo manifests, delivery orders and alleged collusion in the concealments of contraband and prohibited goods, there have also been manifold cases of alleged suppression of evidences of import violations, by way of official operational manipulations by the terminal operator.

Indeed, there are indications that APM Terminals not only engage in actions that have shortchanged Nigeria in the open field of economic rip off, the much more serious issues of providing cover for alleged drugs related trafficking are some of the rather troubling cases the relevant authorities appeared to have shown less concern.

One other agency that appears to have also provided cover for APM Terminals is the Nigeria Customs Service, through certain corrupt officials; a conspiracy that has made nonsense of customs revenue risks control system, and widened the scope of leakages, contrary to efforts of the efforts of the outgoing leadership and his management to curtail.

Recently, APM Terminals Operations Manager was detained by the Enforcement Unit of the Apapa Customs Command, allegedly over identified questionable consignment which the terminal operator reportedly provided tacit custody, ostensibly to obviate detection and to suppress enforcement.

However, the then Customs Area Controller, who was accused of alleged connivance invited the senior officers who ordered the operations manager’s  arrest over to his office; and while on their way to his office, allegdly directed the enforcement  junior officers holding the terminal operator’s manager, to let him go. We will provide more details to that official fiasco in subsequent edition, today, we shall focus on other matters.

There are cases of impounded containers of drugs technically and administratively in the custody of APM Terminals watch, reported to have been emptied through either official negligence and through tacit official collusion.

There are also cases of the smuggling of trade goods supported by the terminal operator, in that its officials conspire with interested third parties to illegally stem such items as bond to terminals outside the mother port, where the items are released, without proper documentation and correct payment of fees and taxes.

While it is APM Terminals right to engage in colourful self appraisal, what is a bit discomfiting is the federal government unabashed pass mark in the face of numerous conflicts, that not only offends the principles of international best practices, undermine our national economy with obvious cases of massive rip off, but even about concerns of threats to national security.

Perhaps it is mere coincidence, barely forty eight hours after report of the redeployment of the Assistant Comptroller General of Customs in charge of ICT and Modernisation leaked, than the terminal operator rolled out drums for its 17th anniversary celebration.

It is believed that APM Terminals enjoyed ACG’s huge support and patronage whilst he served as the Apapa customs area command controller. His removal last week as ACG ICT was reportedly based on discovery that his office may have allegedly been involved in corrupt transactions leading to leakages, which insider sources also attributed to ‘revenue risks’.

SILHOUTTE will also be looking at a few other issues regarding the operations of APM Terminals which will help Nigerians to determine the correctness or otherwise of the vote of confidence that has been passed by the NPA and BPE; and to understand why we are where we are in terms of foreign direct investments and the GDP compared to profit repatriation; political and national security, social capita and the per capita ratio of assortments of negative economic vagaries.

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