FEDERAL Airports Authority of Nigeria (Faan) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) operatives have got involved in a bitter war of words with each other on a social media following an altercation at the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos.
Following on from a nasty clash between operatives of both officials at the airport yesterday, Faan took to Twitter to accuse the NCS of a breach of security. Faan spokeswoman Henrietta Yakubu, alleged that the Customs area comptroller for the hajj and cargo terminal at the airport and one Agunbiade, a customs officer in his entourage manhandled aviation security (Avsec) staff at the airport.
Ms Yakubu said this happened at Gate Three of the security restricted area. She added that the aviation security officers on duty were profiling a Nigerian Aviation Handling Company vehicle that wanted to access the area when the Customs area comptroller emerged and interfered with their work.
She said Mr Agunbiade, the Customs officer, on the area comptroller’s entourage shoved aside the officer at the gate and the comptroller also threatened to beat up security officers who tried to stop them. Ms Yakubu alleged that the Customs officers forcefully took over Gate Three and opened it for the comptroller and his escorts to access the security restricted area forcefully.
Ms Yakubu said: “While accessing the gate, the armed escorts to the comptroller threatened to beat up some Avsec officers at the gate if they dared to resist the breach of security. 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.”
However, the NCS responded, adding: “Saying that a gate is restricted to Customs in an international cargo airport shows a lack of understanding of NCS roles. Could it be that the gate is being made available for smugglers?”
Faan, however defended its actions, saying the restricted areas at the airport are in the interest of national security, adding that no staff or agency is beyond standard security procedures. Ms Yakubu added: “It is a cargo terminal in Murtala Mohammed International Airport, not a dedicated international cargo airport.
“In the interest of national security, all airfields worldwide are security restricted areas, be it cargo or non-cargo airports. No staff or agency is beyond or above submitting to standard security procedures in any airport, no matter what role the agency plays.
“No role justifies serial indiscipline and assault on fellow citizens. We must not trivialise this matter as being about Faan or Customs, as it is about the dignity and safety of our security personnel who are regularly assaulted and humiliated in public.”