By Victor Ahiuma-Young
The Dockworkers branch of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, has said the Federal Government should be blamed for cases of illegal arms and hard drugs imported into the country through the ports.
President of the Dockworkers’ branch, Ibrahim Ohize, in a chat recalled that “The issue of drugs was discovered last year in two terminals. Some dockworkers were arrested as you are aware; some of them have been released, while some of them are still in court.
As a union, we have to allow the law to take its course and the government agencies to do their jobs. If the court frees them, the union will then come in. As long as they are still in court you cannot pronounce them guilty or not. Nevertheless, from that time we have been sensitizing our members and talking to them from terminal to terminal that they must not get themselves involved in drugs or illegal activities.
“But we blame the government for all these illegal and criminal activities because of the disengagement of Tally clerk and onboard security men in the vessel. The terminal operators and their agents now engage whomever they like on board the vessel. These people have control. But when the tally clerks and onboard security men were there, they report to us and we control them. We gave them specific instructions that they must report to us whenever they found illegal or prohibited items, they should report to us. It was see something, report something. We told them to blow the alarm if they see something. But today the terminal operators appoint security men. How do we know who is compromising?
“As leaders, we try to talk to our members to avoid anything illegal that can put them into trouble or face the law. We have sounded very clear that if they are caught doing illegal activities, if they are caught with prohibited drugs, the union will deny them and we will expel them from the union. That is the instruction from the President General of the Union. He has gone around the terminals to inform them and I’m doing the same, going around terminals to warn them.
“Similarly, the problem of arms is also related. Tally clerks and onboard security men used to be the eyes of the government that observes or searches the vessels in the course of their jobs. That is the course of examination of vessels. But we have some cases of no examination. That is, we have some instances, security agencies will come and say don’t examine this container because it going to the barracks. Soldiers will come and carry container that is going to the barracks. Who are you to say no? Yes, there are some containers you will not touch or do an examination of. The law says 100 percent examination.”
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