By Gboyega Oni
Port stakeholders at the cargo shed of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos Nigeria are not finding cargo clearance easy under the time restriction regime put in place by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria – FAAN – and its subsequent enforcement by the officers of the Nigerian Airforce.
Under the law, all stakeholders particularly licensed customs agents and truck drivers must end their operations and leave the port environs by 6pm everyday. And the Airforce officers have taken advantage of this by violently enforcing the law thereby subjecting law-abiding Nigerians to unbearable treatments.
Decrying the restriction in an interview with PortNews, Comrade Kola G. Akinola, President of the United Masses Association of Nigeria – UMAN – and a freight forwarder, berated the management of FAAN for coming up with such a barbaric and counter-productive law that has mitigated smooth cargo clearance in the port shed.
He wondered how a customs agent whose cargo was just released by the Customs by 6pm would leave the port when FAAN has mandated that everyone should vacate the port shed by 6pm.
The human right activist said since the law came into being, officers of the Nigerian Airforce have been harassing people and seizing their consignments. He castigated FAAN for getting Airforce involved in a civil matter while the Police is left out.
According to Akinola, “when your cargo comes out of shed by 6pm and is taken to the loading park and before trans-loading is done, it is about 7.30pm. How can you leave the shed by 6pm when you have not finished with your transaction?
“Airforce officers are everywhere harassing innocent Nigerians who are going about with their lawful jobs. This is a violation of human rights of Nigerians as many people have been beaten up by the Airforce officers. Why should we be treated like slaves in our country?”
Akinola said the law is against the recent Executive Order of the Federal Government in making the nation’s airport working 24 hours a day.
He called on the management of FAAN to abolish the law or face legal action in the court while using the same opportunity to appeal to the Commandant of the Sam Ethnan Airforce Base, Ikeja to withdraw his officers immediately from the illegal operation in the shed.
“I am using this opportunity to appeal to FAAN to abolish the law. The Commandant of the Airforce Base should remove his officers immediately from the action. This law is anti Executive Order on the ease of doing business in the country,” Akinola angrily submitted.
By Gboyega Oni