Customs on collision course with airport staff over cargo theft

*Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos

Customs Area Comptroller, Lagos Airport Command, Mrs. Jayne Shoboiki and the ground handling staff and licenced customs agents are on a collision course as she accuses them of stealing cargoes at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.

Speaking today at meeting with major stakeholders held at the airport today, the new customs boss said the NCS would not condone a situation in which some ground handling staff at the tarmac do not only connive with the agents to rob the federal government of its revenues, but also collaborate in stealing cargoes

She warned those engaging in such act to desist from it emphasising that the command would no longer tolerate diversion of government revenue by some unscrupulous elements in the system, especially the cargo agents.

Shoboiki stated that within a week of her redeployment to the airport, she had noticed some loopholes in the system which she intended to plug.

She also said the attitude of some staff had been a major hindrance.

“We seem to have a lot of challenges with the ground handling staff at this airport, especially at the tarmac. They are not only conniving with the agents, but are also aiding and abetting in stealing of cargo at the tarmac. One of the ground handling agents visited me yesterday (Wednesday) and when I came out with a lot of evidence, he didn’t know what to say.

“I see no reason why we should steal cargo at the shed. The importer has given the agent the appropriate money for the clearance of the cargo, but some of the agents in connivance with some of the ground handling staff still go ahead to steal cargo. All that will stop. Any agent caught stealing cargo, his license would be seized.

“I am not here to blame anyone, but to ensure that we make adjustments. I am here for revenue collection at the command. We need to have attitudinal change in whatever we do. I am not going to compromise my revenue collection or allow anyone to constitute an impediment to that change. I will adopt carrot and stick approach and I will not hesitate to use the stick when the need arises,” she said.

Responding to the cargo theft allegation, the head, corporate services, Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (nahco aviance) Plc, Mr. Ahmed Bashir Gulmah, expressed surprise saying the ground handling firm had put in systems to checkmate any nefarious activities by its clients and staff.

However, he agreed that there was no perfect system anywhere in the world, but assured that nahco aviance would continue to cooperate with the NCS and other stakeholders in the industry.

“I am actually taken aback by some of the allegations. No system is perfect, but our commitment is that we will ensure compliance, improve on our structures and cooperate with your men on the field.

“We will also ensure that government gets what is due to them and we too will generate our own revenues,” he said.

Also present at the stakeholders’ meeting were representatives of the Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCOL) Limited, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF).




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