The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has raised concern over “forceful access”of a Security Restricted Area (SRA) and threats to Aviation Security ( AVSEC) officials by some personnel of the Nigerian Customs Services (NSC).
The authority said the incident was recorded at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos last Thursday.
Henrietta Yakubu, FAAN’s corporate affairs general manager, in a statement, on Monday, 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.”
According to the statement, at about 1745hrs on Thursday, January 20, 2022, while the AVSEC officers on day duty at Gate 3 were profiling a Nigerian Aviation Handling Company(NAHCO) vehicle that wanted to access the SRA unit of the airport 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.
The authority alleged that “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,” the statement read.
FAAN is a service organisation statutorily charged to manage all commercial airports in Nigeria and provide service to both passenger and cargo airlines.
“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 said.
Reacting to the development, Joseph Attah, NCS spokesperson, explained that claims that a gate is restricted to customs in an international cargo airport shows lack of understanding of NCS roles.
Mr Attah expressed worry over 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,” he told PREMIUM TIMES in an interview.
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