BY LAWANI MIKAIRU & DANIEL ETEGHE
Lagos — Comptroller -General of Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Dikko Inde Abdullahi, Wednesday, ordered the closure of two cargo warehouses operated by Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited, SAHCOL, and the Nigeria Aviation Handling Company, NAHCo, Plc at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Lagos for alleged unwholesome practices including illegal clearing of goods and non-remittance of appropriate revenue to the Federal Government.
The Comptroller-General was said to have ordered full scale investigation into the unethical and fraudulent practices with a view to bringing those directly and indirectly involved to book.
Vanguard gathered that Federal Operations Unit, FOU, of Customs, which sealed up the two warehouses, yesterday, returned to the warehouses to begin detailed investigation which an insider said must have denied government very huge sums of money.
Speaking on the closure through the Customs Public Relations Officer, Airport Command, Thelma Williams, Abdullahi said the service approved closure of the two warehouses after series of meetings with key players in the aviation warehouse business failed to yield positive results.
He lamented that improper documentation on the part of ground handlers had led to massive revenue loss for the government, which he said the service would seek to address before re-opening the warehouses.
According to the C-G, inability to explain exit of goods from the warehouse without proper documentation, inability to produce Customs’ release documentation and evidence of payment of import duty and other statutory charges by the companies, are some of the reasons for the closure of the warehouses.
However, spokesman of NAHCo, Mr. Sanya Onayoade, in a statement, said: “This is to inform our stakeholders, especially our esteemed customers, that the Nigeria Customs Service has temporarily closed the Customs bonded warehouse at the Nahco Complex to enable a sanitisation exercise that will ultimately improve service delivery and block all revenue leakages.”
NAHCo said consultations with Customs were on to resolve the matter, noting that at the end of the day the company would render better services and ensure “ among others, that certain areas in the warehouse are restricted to unauthorized people.