By Ifeyinwa Obi
The management of APM Terminals Apapa Limited, operator of the Apapa Container Terminal, has handed over six persons to the police in connection with an attempt to steal two 40-feet containers from the terminal.
The containers, PONU7220471 and MSKU9694675, together with the suspects were apprehended after a close watch by APM Terminalsâ€™ security department.
â€œThe suspects were watched until they left our gate to provide the evidence of the illegal act occurring and be able to identify all involved,â€ Martin Dirks, Managing Director of APM Terminals, said.
Speaking on the same issue, APM Terminalsâ€™ Director of Operations, Mr. Doug Smith, said upon determination of those involved in the action, the identified offenders were handed over to the Police for further investigation.
â€œCurrently there are six (two external and four internal) persons in custody and the Police are looking for one other person known to be involved. The containers are currently under police custody and observationâ€, he said.
Smith also said that it appears one external individual assisted two truck drivers by giving them fake EIR (Equipment Interchange Receipts) to allow them to leave the terminal.
â€œThis individualâ€, according to him, â€œassisted the drivers in loading the units as well as getting past our security processes. It is suspected that this was also assisted by other internal members in the terminal. Once the drivers got fully outside our gate improperly, our security team went into action and detained those involvedâ€.
He said that further investigations are being carried out to determine the origin of the EIRâ€™s and other matters
â€œThe criminal syndicate attempting this action is very motivated and constantly updating their processes. APM Terminals has been working very hard to eliminate all possibilities for these illegal actions to occur. Our security department has been working very diligently to investigate and root out those involved in the same. We have also deployed technology and will
be installing more in the coming months to assist with eliminating this
occurrenceâ€, Martin Dirks added.
â€˜Flyingâ€™ of containers from the port, believed to be perpetrated by syndicates became worrisome in the pre-concessioning era.
Containers were â€˜flownâ€™ out of the terminals to avoid payment of customs duties and port charges which could sometimes run into several millions of naira. The container â€˜flyingâ€™ syndicates thrived and operated successfully in the past but with the hand-over of terminal operations to private
companies, their activities had witnessed tremendous decline.
It is a criminal offence, under Section 47 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), to remove goods from the ports without the payment of Customs duties and other appropriate charges.
If convicted, the perpetrators of the act face jail terms ranging from three to five years without the option of fine.