A face-off between two Federal Government parastatals, the Nigeria Customs Service NCS and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), may degenerate into a breach of peace, even as the latter described the former as lacking discipline.
In response, the Customs in response has however accused FAAN of not only suffering ignorance but also of playing to the gallery over a matter that could be easily resolved, as two Government agencies.
Specifically, the FAAN urged the Customs Service, to “please respect our mandate by being of disciplined and professional conduct”, in the overall interest of national security.
According to FAAN, some officials of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) at Hajj/Cargo terminal Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, allegedly engaged in the breaking of Airport security, and forcefully opened the security gate at the cargo terminal.The FAAN in a statement issued by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, through its spokesperson, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, in Lagos on Monday, said the Customs personnel shoved aside aviation security personnel on duty at the gate before carrying out the breach.Yakubu said that the incident happened under the watchful eyes of the Command Comptroller, Dan Galadima, who was in his car when the incident occurred.
“At about 17:45hrs on Thursday, Jan. 20, while the AVSEC officers on day duty at Gate 3 were profiling a NAHCO vehicle that wanted to access the Security Restricted Area (SRA) via gate 3,
“The Customs Area Comptroller for Hajj and Cargo Terminal suddenly emerged and pulled off behind the NAHCO vehicle that was being attended to and CSC Agunbiade, a customs officer on the Area Comptroller’s entourage, later shoved aside the AVSEC officer at the gate.
“Forcefully took over the gate and opened the gate for the Comptroller and his escorts to forcefully access the security restricted Area via the gate.
“While accessing the gate, the armed escorts to the Comptroller threatened to beat up the AVSEC officers at the gate if they dare resist their assault and breach of security,” FAAN alleged.
The airport authority also noted that personnel of the NCS, who bear arms, were actually in the habit of flagrant disobedience to security measures in the airport with threat to deal with AvSec personnel who are not armed.
“This blatant abuse of the privilege of bearing firearms by the NCS has become a recurrent threat to the Safety and Security of our Staff and our operations,” FAAN said.
The airport authority however called on stakeholders in the airport environment to obey aviation security regulations even as it resolves existing challenges.
“While we keep on working to resolve all our challenges decisively, we hereby urge all stakeholders to please respect our mandate by being of disciplined and professional conduct in the interest of national security and operational safety,” FAAN appealed.However, the Customs Service in a swift reaction has debunked the initial claim of FAAN, stressing that the Airport managers must have been misled by ignorance and false sense of superiority.The National Customs Image maker, Comptroller Joseph Attah who first thoroughly explained that the Airport is a Customs facility, therefore wondered how anyone would contemplate restricting the Customs officers in a Customs port, except such persons, had an intention not far from fuelling cargo smuggling.
“Saying that a gate is restricted to Customs in an international cargo airport shows lack of understanding of NCS roles”
“Could it be that the gate is being used to ferry goods out of the airport without Customs clearance?
What is the intention behind restricting Customs in what is by status a Customs controlled area?
Attah was however sad, that FAAN decided to rush to the press, on a matter, that should have been easily and amicably resolved, between two Government agencies.
“It’s curious that instead of engaging each other for better understanding between two Government agencies, FAAN is engaging in public display of false sense of superiority”