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No restricted area to Customs in cargo airport- Spokesman

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Tuesday responded to accusations by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) that it breached security protocols at a cargo airport in Lagos.

Spokesman of the NCS, Comptroller Joseph Attah, was responding to a statement issued by FAAN on Monday, accusing Customs officials at the airport of disrupting security procedure at the airport.

Attah described the statement by FAAN as one coming from the point of lack of understanding of what the roles of the Customs actually are in a cargo airport.

He insinuated that such restriction could mean that some activities were happening without the knowledge of the customs operatives.

His words: “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?

“It’s curious that instead of engaging each other for better understanding between Government agencies, FAAN is engaging in public display of false sense of superiority.”

FAAN, in a statement on Monday, said that some Customs officials at the Hajj/cargo terminal, Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos Command, forced their way to open the security gate at the cargo terminal.

Spokesperson of FAAN , Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, alleged that the Customs personnel shoved aside aviation security personnel on duty at the gate before carrying out the breach.

She said that the incident happened under the watch of the Comptroller of the Command, 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.

“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 added that personnel of the NCS, who bear arms, deliberately disobey security measures in the airport, with threat to deal with aviation security personnel who are not armed.

The aviation authority used the opportunity to appeal that all stakeholders respect its mandate by conducting themselves professionally, for the interest of national security.

It said: “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.

“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.”

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