The Nigeria Customs Service (NIS) has shut down the two major aviation handling companies: Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) and the Nigeria Aviation Handling Company Plc (nahco aviance) at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, over suspected export of donkey skin.
It was gathered that the Customs suspected that donkey skin was warehoused within the two major ground handling companies in Nigeria, leading to their complicity, which prompted their shutdown by Customs.
THISDAY learnt that Chinese businessmen were fingered to be responsible for the illicit business of exporting donkey skin from Nigeria and allegedly, some customs agents helped to export the contraband to China.
The two companies have confirmed the shut down.
There were also indications that the Chinese businessmen brought the items into Nigeria from Kenya, but needed some Nigerian freight forwarders to finally help them in shipping the items to their country.
Nigerian businessmen who have started exporting perishable farm produce are miffed by the shutdown because it would adversely affect their export business as produce are not allowed to stay up to 24 hours before they are packaged and exported.
So, with the shut down the export of farm produce, which government has been encouraging, has been paralysed.
Exporters of perishable/vegetables have therefore described the shut down as outrageous and anti-economic development for the country.
The exporters alleged that customs acted following a tip off about some unscrupulous Chinese who were exporting donkey skin through Emirates Airline and should have zeroed in on them and stopped their business instead of shutting down the whole export business.
Confirming the incident, Captain John Okakpu, CEO, ABX World, described the exporters frustration, noting that they had already lost millions of Naira following the customs action.
He said that customs ought to have carried out thorough investigation before shutting down all export businesses at the Lagos Airport.
Captain John said the action negated federal government’s agricultural road map which was even launched by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo on Monday.
“We have even contacted the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, and they are outraged.
This is counter- productive. You don’t shut down the whole export unit because some people are suspected to be engaged in illegal business. What happens to the perishable items that ought to be exported since Monday? Who pays for millions lost? Is this how to promote economic development in the country? We are telling the whole country to know that Customs has done something very anti-agric and economic growth,” he said.