Clearing agents operating at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) last weekend protested the frequent interception of consignments already cleared from the airport by operatives of the Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’, the Lagos-based anti-smuggling arm of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
The protesting agents, SHIPS & PORTS DAILY gathered, disrupted cargo clearing operation at the Lagos airport.
Chairman of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) MMIA Chapter, Segun Musa, who spoke on behalf of the protesting agents, told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY that it is unethical for the FOU operatives to intercept cargo already cleared by their colleagues.
He said it is practically impossible for an importer to successfully clear any consignments with irregularities such as underpayment or concealment without the active support of customs officer.
“When jobs have been released by customs in the command, it is excepted that the job has been thoroughly taken care of so for another officer to arrest the job on the road, take it to their own command and start processing the clearing again, it means money must have exchanged hands for an officer to release a job that is suspicious”, he said.
Musa who described the action as an act of injustice melted out against the agents noted that until the NCS starts prosecuting officers who aid the release of suspicious consignments, evasion of duty payment and concealment will persist.
He said claims by the FOU that arrest and interception of cargoes were based on intelligence report are incorrect.
“If they intercept any container with irregularities, they are supposed to detain the officer that released the job not the job or the agent. Once you have your intelligence report, it is expected that you do your thorough investigation and arrest all the officers that are involved in releasing the shipments. That is the only time we know you are doing your job. When you arrest the agents that they should pay another duty or charge them to court, then it is like they are not being fair to us”, he said.
He said though agents at the airport have resumed work, they might be forced to down tool again should the situation persist.