The increased security breach within Lagos’ airport cargo terminals have raised immense concerns. Murtala Mohammed Airport terminal, in spite of the close monitoring and tightened investigation to enhance the security system around the airport remains a veritable path for the smuggling of illicit drugs and weapons. Airport insiders and officials have commended the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the Nigerian Custom Service (NCS) for their immense efforts at containing the spate of importing illicit drugs. They however insisted on the existence of this menace, noting that illicit goods and weapons still have a free pass through the terminal.
According to a statement by the Nigerian Custom Service on Tuesday, it revealed that it had intercepted military hardwares and illicit drugs which includes 162 cartons of banned Tramadol hydrochloride 225 & 250mg at a cargo section of the Murtala Mohammed Airport. Compt. Sambo Dangaladima, the Custom Area Controller of the Murtala Mohammed Airport Command further disclosed that these items were intercepted at the Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO). Breaking down the items, he explained that 309 pieces of military helmet, 106 pieces of military armless jackets, 352 pieces of ballistic armored pads and another 119 pieces of police badges were found. Other contraband items included bulletproof jackets, body side ballistic pads and ballistic chest plates.
Agency for customs is fully in charge of investigating cargo in transport.
Speaking to the Managing Director of SAHCO, Mr. Basil Agboarumi, he applauded the efforts of the Customs and NDLEA agents, stating that they were in full control of examining the cargos leaving or arriving in the country via their facility. He added that the company had its own security system where officials report directly to the federal government agencies upon any incident or suspicion. He noted that the custom agency was fully in charge of the cargo, carrying the NDLEA along and thus, SAHCO should not be held responsible for any glitch in the security situation. As such, he exonerated SAHCO and the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company, two of the biggest handling companies in the country.
Further backing up his claim, Mr. Basil stated that there were CCTV cameras and scanners within the company’s premises for monitoring all activities within the premises. He pointed out that it was the agency’s duty to arrest anyone suspected to have indulged in illicit deals, as the company has no right to open anyone’s cargo. He said that the company can thus efficiently relate with the officials of these agencies. He indicated that while it was within the responsibilities of the NDLEA and NCS agencies to inspect the goods, the company’s duty was just to provide means for facilitating the movement of these goods.
Handling companies deserve credits for putting things in place.
The Managing Director also noted that these agencies were stationed within the premises of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) with SAHCO and NAHCO, merely gateways for goods within the aviation industry. He noted that the federal government’s agency ensure that banned goods are not imported into the country. He said that while the company’s security officials had no right to search cargos, it was the duty of the federal government’s agencies to track, identify and investigate these crimes, while cooperating with the handling companies. Mr. Basil further stated that the agencies were also efficient with their tasks even though the public sometimes turn deaf ears to their exploits.
He continued by noting that the fact that arrests are not always made does not mean that procedures do not take place. By cooperating with the agencies to ensure that no one hides anything, Mr. Basil pointed out that handling companies also deserve credits for putting things in place. He revealed that the custom officers use scanners to inspect the cargos for ascertaining the revenue that goes to the government and upon noticing any illicit goods, they are handed to the NDLEA.
Custom agencies should be held responsible for any imported illicit good.
A senior officer in NAHCO also indicated that the custom agencies should be held responsible for any discovered illicit good imported into the country because the agency was fully in charge of containing this as well as the handling companies and facilitators. He also stated that FASN had no control over territorial borders. Sources at the terminal stated that importers of these illicit drugs would have halted using the airport route, if these drugs were not finding their way out of the airport.