From Suleiman Idris, Lagos
A retired Colonel and Manager Landslide Service of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Col. John George (rtd) was brutalized yesterday by Custom officers at the cargo terminal of the international wing of the Lagos airport.
The incident is coming barely a week after normalcy returned to the cargo section following it closed down as a result of a fracas that broke out when Custom officers and clearing agents clashed at the facility.
The retired military officer draw the anger of a custom officer for daring to ask him not to park his private car in the parking space designated for official purpose at the cargo terminal.
The incident attracted onlookers who bemoaned the attitude of some Custom officers at the airport in recent time.
The custom officer, one C. U Umen had driven his private car a Toyota SUV Outlander with registration number LND 633 CF to park in the parking lots built for revenue generation by FAAN.
Umen’s refusal to pay the mandatory parking fee to the revenue collecting agent at the entrance on the condition that he was on his uniform did not go down well with the revenue collector.
Eye witnesses told our correspondent he quickly went to mobilise his colleagues from the Custom area command office less than a 100 meters away who came with two pickup van loaded with armed custom men.
The armed men initially manhandled the female FAAN staff manning the gate before swooping on Colonel George who had arrived the scene to intervene.
George explained that a circular had been circulated to the security agencies notifying them of the intention of FAAN to built the park for the purpose of revenue generation.
He said only vehicles with official stamps of the agency are exempted from the said fee.
His entreaty to persuade Umen and offer him to park his car inside the hajj camp compound fell on deaf ears.
He also noted that the situation would have hampered rescue effort had an emergency occurred as the road to the hajj camp was blocked by the Customs.
“The Customs officer told FAAN officers that their comptroller directed them not to pay and shoot at sight whoever disturb them at the airport.” He said further.
The manager noted that it was a surprise to him for a senior custom officer to engaged himself in such a fracas after what the customs just went through with the clearing agents at the airport.
When our correspondent visited the scene, materials and equipment belonging to FAAN which were destroyed littered the area.
Journalists were barred from gaining entrance into the Custom office in an attempt to get the Customs Public Relations Officer, Mrs Thelma Williams reaction.
Also General Manager, Corporate Communications of FAAN, Mr. Yakubu Dati said the incident is being investigated.