Anxiety At Nigerian Ports As Armed Personnel Invade Shipping Companies, Hold Staff Hostage

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*** SSASCFA Condemns Invasion, Describes It As Unwarranted

There is palpable fear at the Nigerian Ports as unknown armed security operatives on Monday invaded five shipping companies in Lagos, holding staff hostage, seizing both staff and customers laptops and personal phones in what eye-witnesses described as commando operation.

This is even as the  Senior Staff Association of Shipping, Clearing and  Forwarding Agencies (SSASCFA), an affiliate of Trade Union Congress (TUC) has condemned in strong terms the forceful invasion of these shipping companies by unknown heavily armed security men who claimed to be personnel of the Federal Competition and Consumers Protection Commission (FCCPC).

Addressing newsmen on Wednesday in Lagos over the development, the President-General of the Association, Comrade Harrison Ugochukwu Asonye described the invasion as unwarranted and a threat to the lives of his members who are staff of the invaded shipping companies. 

Asonye revealed that two of their members fainted and were quickly rushed to the hospitals as a result of emotional trauma they suffered due to the commando style with which the commission stormed the  shipping companies with armed personnel pointing guns at unarmed staffers who were performing their lawful duties.

Speaking further, the association’s President stated that personal mobile phones and laptops of staff were seized including that of clearing agents and customers who came to carry out their lawful duties and businesses at the companies.

He maintained that operations were on Monday grounded at the premises of its member-companies in Cosco Shipping Nigeria Limited, Hullblyth Nigeria Limited, CMA/CGM Nigeria Limited, Lagos and Niger Shipping Agencies Limited ( LANSAL) and Hapag-Llyod Shipping Nigeria Limited as officers of FCCPC unleashes mayhem on innocent working members of the union.

While calling for an investigation into the invasion, the association  warned that should such invasion continue, the association might be forced to protest the barbaric act, noting that members of the union shouldn’t be held hostage as they are only staffers of the companies. 

Comrade Asonye however stated that the association was not against any government agencies doing its works, but maintained that laid down procedures should be followed, and such operations must be carried out in a civilized manner.

According to him” It is an embarrassment that a government agency will have to come in a commando style to invade some of these shipping companies.

“We may end up losing our customers as a result of the invasion as individuals phones were collected and even our members phones were collected while they downloaded data and mirrored the personal Whatsapp of our members, this is against their freedom as citizens of Nigeria.

“Up till now, we are not aware of what they want, the management of these companies are not aware of the reason for the invasion; even the Nigerian Shippers’ Council being the economic regulators of the ports also denied being aware of the reason for the invasion. So we don’t know what is going on.

“We may be forced to go on a warning strike, if the government does not address this forceful invasion urgently. We know there will be economic losses, but our lives is worth much more than the demurrage that will be incurred” he said.

Com Harrison Ugochukwu Asonye, P.G, Senior Staff Association of Shipping, Clearing and  Forwarding Agencies (SSASCFA)

Meanwhile, as at the time of filing this reports, efforts made by our correspondent to reach the spokesperson of the FCCPC and get their own side of the story, proved abortive as one of the numbers displayed in the Commission’s official website was not reachable, while the person who picked the second line said she would revert to our correspondent the following day. 

Until then, the reason behind the invasion of some shipping companies by FCCPC remains unknown, even as Platform Reporters gathered that the commission also invaded more shipping companies on Wednesday, a development that has generated tension amongst port users and the Nigerian shipping sector in general.