The new Customs Area Comptroller for the NAHCO Warehouse in Lagos, Mr. Taju Olarewaju, was manhandled by Clearing Agents at the warehouse who are feeling the pinch of reforms he had introduced into their operations.
Olanrewaju, who is just a few weeks at post attempted to enter NAHCO warehouse as part of measures to implement some reforms that would make for efficient goods clearing.
But he was denied entry even though he introduced himself as the CAC. To add salt to injury a clearing agent reportedly pushed him, which annoyed other customs men nearby.
Attempts by other customs officials to prevent the CAC from being assaulted ignited the fracas, it was gathered, led to the fracas during which agents being driven out of their offices, amid popping of teargas by the Custom.
Reinforced from the Federal Operations Unit, the customs trapped some agents in their offices, as they could not escape. The commotion brought business activities to a halt at the cargo section of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on Wednesday.
Two people were injured in the fracas as people scampered for safety after sporadic gunshots were reportedly heard at the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company.
A visit by our correspondent showed that riot police were stationed in the area with an Amoured Personnel Carrier. About eight custom patrol pickups were also drafted to the scene of the incident.
There was also intermittent shooting of tear gas by the NCS men.
The President of the Association of Foreign Airlines’ Representatives in Nigeria, Mr. Kingsley Nwokoma, who confirmed the development to our correspondent, said some agents were disgruntled by some of the changes the CAC had been trying to introduce to the airport.
He said, “We learnt that the CAC was manhandled and his car was also vandalised in the process by agents who have not been comfortable with the tight measures he introduced at the warehouse to reduce the issues of underhand dealings and shortcuts there.
“As a result, air force police and soldiers had to be drafted to the area to forestall further breakdown of law and order.”
An agent, Mr. Yemi Adegbusi, said that the CAC tried to gain entry into the warehouse during their break time, which was again the agent’s rule.
He said that the customs started beating up everyone, including women, at the cargo terminal complex.