by Shola Adekola - Lagos
Twenty four hours after an open confrontation that ensued between the officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Association of Nigeria License Customs Agents (ANLCA) at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, the Bulk Breaking Area of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company, NAHCo, Plc still remains under lock and key.
When Nigerian Tribune visited the area on Thursday, Customs security officers were detailed at the unit while clearing agents were not allowed into the complex.
However, there was free flow of human traffic within the vicinity, but Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) was stationed at the complex with eight security pick-up vans stationed in strategic places within the airport.
The spokesman for NAHCo, Mr Sanya Onayoade, in a telephone interview, confirmed that the Bulk Breaking Area of the company was still shut, but assured that it would be re-opened as soon as the issue was resolved.
Onayoade informed that the crisis was not between the ground handling company and agents or Customs, but between clearing agents and Customs.
He, however, said NAHCo, as a ground handler, provided a Customs bonded warehouse, which enabled officials of the Nigeria Customs Service unrestrained access to the facility at any particular period and assured that the company would continue to operate to the expected international standards in its operations.
His words: “The Customs have the right to access the facilities that we provided unrestrained at any time of the day. The present crisis does not concern us because we are not involved in it. We are currently intervening in the issue and we hope that it would be resolved very soon. But, for now, the facility is temporarily shut.”
Trouble broke out on Wednesday, at the complex, following a disagreement between the clearing agents and Customs with two members of ANLCA sustaining serious injuries while several others had minor injuries when men of Customs shot sporadically.
While NCS officials at the airport claimed that its Customs Area Comptroller (CAC) was manhandled by the Customs when he went on inspection of the bulk breaking area of the warehouse, the clearing agents claimed that he was never prevented by its officials.
Source: Nigerian Tribune