By Henry Uche, Lagos
The Central Working Committee (CWC) of Senior Staff Association of Shipping, Clearing & Forwarding Agencies (SSASCFA), TUC Affiliate, has condemned in strong terms a forceful invasion of five shipping companies by operatives of the Federal Competition & Consumers Protection Commission (FCCPC) alongside the police on Monday, October 18, where they ceased documents, phones and other gadgets at gunpoint.
At an emergency media brief on Wednesday, the President General (PG) of the Association, Harrison Ugochukwu Asonye, said the operatives of FCCPC (unknown to them) came in with armed security men without any prior notice.
According to the PG, the purpose of the invasion was yet unknown to them as at the time of filing this report, leaving them in fear and anxiety. He noted that the impression has started crippling activities of shipping companies as some affected shipping companies have asked their staff to steer clear from work at the moment.
‘The invasion is a threat to our members’ lives. Two of our members fainted and were rushed to the hospitals owing to the commando-style at which the commission stormed some shipping companies with armed men. The personal gadgets of clearing agents who came to carry out their lawful duties were ceased,’ he said.
The affected companies invaded at Cosco are Shipping Nigeria Limited, Hullblyth Nigeria Limited, CMA/CGM Nigeria Limited, Lagos & Niger Shipping Agencies Limited (LANSAL) and Hapag Llyod Shipping Nigeria Limited, while mayhem was unleashed on innocent working members of the union.
‘We called for a quick investigation into the invasion and should such invasion continue, we shall be forced to protest against the barbaric act and we warn against holding our members hostage as we are only staff of the companies.
He noted that the association was not against government agencies doing their work, but laid down procedures must be followed, stating that ‘it is an embarrassment that a government agency would 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 monitored 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, even the management is not aware, Nigeria Shippers’ Council is not aware and we don’t know what is going on. We may be forced to go on a warning strike if the government do not address this forceful invasion. We know there will be economic loss, but our lives are worth much more than the demurrage that will be incurred, we demand the immediate return of our personal property,’ he charged.