On Monday April 8, 2019, an operative of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in the LADOL Free Zone in Lagos shot and killed his colleague during an argument.
He then shot and seriously injured a Korean employee of SHI-MCI FZE, who later died at the hospital as a result of injuries he suffered.
This was an entirely unprovoked attack and there would have been more casualties if the other guards and SHI-MCI employees did not display act of bravery by detaining the gunman as he tried to leave the yard.
The NSCDC gunman was contracted to LADOL at the time of the incident. LADOL is obliged to provide security over the free-zone via its affiliate and the Zone Manager, Global Resources Management Free Zone Company, in accordance with the NEPZA regulations. However, this shooting is a major security breach by LADOL of NEPZA regulations.
According to media reports, SHI-MCI FZE was said to have reported several security incidents to LADOL relating to disorderly and dangerous conduct of armed guards and how their employees were vulnerable and subject to any imminent life-threatening danger but no action was taken, which led to this fatal incident.
Following the shooting, the head of the NSCDC, Abdullahi Gana, made a public statement expressing sympathy for the victims but claiming that that shooting was “an accidental discharge.”
But eyewitness accounts showed that the position of NSCDC boss that the shooting was “in error” was false as two people were shot by the NSCDC gunman in two different locations far apart.
The Korean employee was performing maintenance on a crane at the time and was shot in a completely unprovoked attack inside the crane.
This is the most serious failing yet by the Free Zone operator. The armed guards are supposed to be properly trained to protect Nigerian and foreign workers, who should feel empowered to promote Nigeria with pride.
It is vital that there is a thorough and independent investigation into this incident, and that those responsible for such a serious failing that has resulted in deaths are held to account. If obviously false statements, such as those issued by the NSCDC, are accepted then more lives may be lost in future occurrences.
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This incident was a violent act in a Free Zone, which is supposed to be a safe zone for foreign nationals, investors and Nigerian workers conducting their daily business.
NEPZA Regulations clearly states: “The Authority or Management of a Free Zone shall provide security over the premises, properties and facilities within the Free Zones.”
In the same vein, LADOL Regulations states: “The Zone Management shall provide security over the premises, property and facilities within the Zone”.
To avoid this kind of incident, Zone operators like GRMFZC (LADOL Group) should have measures in place to ensure the safety and security of all their subleases at the zone and if those measures fail there should be contingencies.
There is no doubt that this incident will have a further deterrent effect on foreign businesses looking to invest in Nigeria.
Akpan-Etukudo, an investment advisor, writes from Warri