On Tuesday, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) engaged in a verbal brawl on social media.
The debate erupted when FAAN accused the NCS of a security breach at Lagos’ Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA).
According to FAAN’s official, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, the Customs Area Comptroller for Hajj and Cargo Terminal at the Lagos Airport and one Agunbiade, a customs officer on the Comptroller’s entourage, manhandled Aviation Security (AVSEC) personnel on duty at Gate 3 of the airport’s Security Restricted Area (SRA).
Yakubu alleged that AVSEC officers on day duty at Gate 3 were profiling a Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) vehicle that wanted to access the Security Restricted Area via gate 3 when the Customs Area Comptroller emerged and pulled off behind the NAHCO vehicle that was being attended to.
She said Agunbiade, the accused customs officer, on the Area Comptroller’s entourage shoved aside the AVSEC officer at the gate.
Yakubu alleged that the Customs officers forcefully took over gate 3 and opened it for the Comptroller and his escorts to access the Security Restricted Area via gate 3, forcefully.
FAAN alleged that the comptroller also threatened to beat up AVSEC officers who tried to stop them.
Part of the statement read: “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 Nigerian Customs, responding to the allegations through its official Twitter handle, questioned the restriction of access to its officers.
The tweet read, “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 defended its tweet, 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.
“It is a cargo terminal in Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA is not a dedicated International Cargo Airport. In the interest of National security, All airfields worldwide are Security Restricted Areas (SRA), 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 trivialize this matter as about FAAN or the Customs; it’s about the Dignity and safety of our security personnel who are regularly assaulted and humiliated in public,” FAAN wrote.