SKYWAY Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) and the Nigeria Aviation Handling Company (NAHCo) have had their warehouses shut yesterday by the Nigeria Customs Services (NCS) over improper documentation and inability to explain exit of goods from the warehouses.
Other reasons adduced for the closure were inability to produce Customs release documentation, evidence of payment of import duty and other statutory charges by the companies.
The two warehouses of the ground handlers at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, were shut indefinitely, thereby crippling cargo businesses at the airport.
The Guardian learnt yesterday that clearing and forwarding agents, who had planned to clear cargoes, were stunned by the development.
Confirming the development to reporters, Comptroller-General of Customs, Dikko Abdullahi, said the service approved the closure after series of meetings with the various key players in the aviation warehouse business failed to yield positive results.
Abdullahi also noted that the improper documentation by the ground handlers led to massive revenue losses to the government, adding that the service would seek to address that before re-opening the facilities.
Also, the Customs Public Relations Officer, Airport Command, Thelma Williams, cited sections 145(1) (b) and 5 of the Customs and Excise Management Act for its action. She added that lack of proper documentation, non-compliance with Customs procedure and attendant loss of revenue accruable to the Federal Government, as well as its national security implications, forced the action.
However, NAHCo Spokesman, Mr. Sanya Onayoade, denied the closure of their warehouse but explained that what happened was the usual sanitation exercise to review processes. According to him, the NCS was still going through its records and processes, and when concluded, the warehouse would be re-opened.
Also, the Head of Communications, SAHCOL, Mr. Basil Agboarumi, said that meetings were ongoing between Customs officials and SAHCOL management on the closure, but noted that the closure did not affect SAHCOL alone, but also other warehouses within the airport.