…Insists On Shutdown
The recent attack on the officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) by the clearing agents has been likened to terrorist act.
The Customs Area Controller (CAC) of the command, Compt. Tajudeen Olanrewaju has said.
Asked the extent of damage caused by the confrontation of the clearing agents with the officers and men of the command last week, he simply described the freight agents as terrorists.
He said, “When we looked at the situation and we engaged relevant stakeholders in discussion that there was need to maintain national security and protection of revenue; in trying to enforce that by nature of our statutory function, we were assaulted on our duty post, that is the peak of it.
“It means people are telling us that we don’t want you people here. They are terrorists attacking law enforcement officer at their duty post, we tag them as terrorists,” he stated.
However, the continued shutdown of the cargo terminals and warehouses at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport may linger until the terminal operators go back to the status quo ante.
The CAC added that the warehouses would remain closed until the terminal operators;namely SAHCOL and NAHCO addressed issues posing threats to security at the airport and the country at large and to revenue generation to the Federal Government.
He said the action became necessary as a result of failure of all the attempts in the past by the command to get the terminal operators to comply with security regulations at the airport.
However, the CAC listed some of the reasons for shutting down the terminals to include; the presence of unauthorised crowd in restricted areas and non-conducive environment for collection of government revenue in line with customs Import procedures.
He stated further that the inability of the terminal operators to provide required logistics for trade facilitation, compliance and protection of national security during the clearance process as well as the condemnable behaviour of the Customs Clearing Agents along with touts against the CAC of the Command and the visiting Acting Controller, Federal Operations Unit (FOU) zone A Ikeja, DC Usman Adamu Turaki as well as other Senior Customs Officers of the command who were at the shed for a peaceful deliberation and enlightenment
“In view of the foregoing, the Nigeria Customs Service is left with no option but to exercise the powers conferred on it as provided under Section 145 (1) (b) of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) CAP C45 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 as amended, the terminals will remain closed until further notice.
“Anybody or group of persons who tries to frustrate the Nigeria Customs Service in the discharge of its duties especially efforts geared towards revenue generation in line with the Comptroller General of Customs’ six point agenda shall be dealt with decisively. To be forewarned is to be forearmed”, the CAC warned.
He however disclosed that all perishable items could be released through the tarmac like Medicaments, Diplomatic cargo/parcels and legitimate trade goods already processed would also be released.
“The authority of this command is monitoring these warehouses and terminals to see their level of compliance and once they meet the conditions set for them, they will be reopened and where they fail, they will remain closed”, he stated.
Recall that the Freight agents last week attacked and assaulted some officers and men of the Command on their duty posts over alleged high charges, hurled pure water sachets and stones on the Customs officer which led to a face off between the two groups.