Two weeks after the federal government streamlined the agencies at Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos to six and relocated the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) out of the terminal, SaharaReporters can authoritatively report that the personnel of the service still operate at the terminal.
An investigation by our correspondent revealed that NAQS officials still carry out their illegal ransacking of passengers’ check-in luggage at the baggage hall of the airport, causing undue delays to departing aircraft.
Our correspondent observed that after NAQS officers manually check passengers’ luggage for foodstuffs at the baggage hall, they take the luggage to the baggage identification point, where they call out the names of the owners of the luggage through the Public Address System (PAS).
Such passengers are made to negotiate with the NAQS officials and pay them between N2,000 and N3,000, depending on the quantity of food items each passenger carries.
On Wednesday, a Virgin Atlantic Airways flight out of the terminal was delayed for almost 30 minutes due to the activities of the quarantine officials, our correspondent gathered.
A source close to the terminal told SaharaReporters that the activities of the quarantine officers have increased in recent weeks since Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s executive order on ease of doing business in Nigeria took effect on June 1, 2017.
“These people are not supposed to be at the airport again, but they continue their activities as if nothing has happened. About two weeks ago, the federal government, through the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), came out with a circular that reduced agencies at the airport to six and moved the quarantine officers to the cargo terminal,” the source said.
“But they [NAQS officers] refused to move and have claimed that they were yet to receive instructions from their office on the relocation.”
It would be recalled that the FAAN, in a memo signed by its Managing Director, Engr. Saleh Dunoma, dated June 16, 2017, streamlined the number of government agencies at the international airports across the country.
The agencies were reduced to six at all the international gateways in Nigerian airports.
The memo retained the operations of the Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS) to arrival and departures and moved the operations of the Nigerian Customs Services (NCS) to arrival only.
Under the new memo, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) retains its frisking of passengers and luggage at both the departure and arrival halls, while the State Security Service (SSS) and the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit (EODU) also remain at the terminal.
The memo moved NAQS out of the airport terminals and restricted their activities to the cargo terminals only, yet the NAQS has continued to disregard the directive.