Despite clinching a grand total of nine awards at the recent 26th World Travel Awards for Africa and Europe in June this year after only been opened a year ago, the Nigerian Customs could not apply decorum and restraint in their approach to such a noble hotel brand in tackling alleged car duty fraud.
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) confirmed on Thursday that its officials raided Fraser Suites, a five-star hotel in Abuja, on Wednesday night in search of cars smuggled into the country. Customs spokesman, Joseph Attah, said the hotel was raided after a total of ten smuggled cars were identified, thus throwing guests and staff of this noble hotel into confusion on Wednesday night.
When Hospitlaity360 Africa visited the Fraser Suite, the whole place has calmed down a little as the customs officers have left the venue, but an eyewitness who is currently on the ground at the hotel, Imo Ugochinyere, narrated the ordeals of the hotel’s guests in the hands of the armed officials of the NCS.
According to Ugochinyere, who is the national spokesman of the Coalition of United Political Parties, in a message sent to one of our correspondents said some diplomats and military men lodged in the hotel were blocked from leaving or entering the hotel because of the siege.
He wrote, “Customs men have invaded Fraser Suite Abuja and sealed it, blocking diplomats and guests from coming in or going out.
“The affected guests include some soldiers who are lodging in the place.
“They are harassing guests and ordering hotel workers to wake guests up from sleep to identify their cars.
“Such barbaric actions have never been seen even during Abacha days.
We Do Not Condemn the Raid on Car Smugglers in the country, however, embarrassing a business entity housing investors, diplomats and innocent citizens in the manner the Nigerian Customs did is rather clumsy and counterproductive for a nation that seeks to attract foreign investors.
I feel sad for the way and manner the Nigerian Customs have decided to approach the issue involving a multinational brand with an impeccable reputation around the world. Storming a hotel like the Fraser Suites who’s management has continued to win numerous awards for excellence on the grounds of receiving tips that the hotel is a safe warehouse for vehicles without duty is rather unprofessional, and unacceptable. There are better ways to go about this without creating such a ripple and pandemonium in a hotel whose management might be oblivion of the documentation of the cars parked in the hotel by its guests.
Disturbing the peace of businessmen and diplomats who come from around the world and lodging at the Fraser suite on the grounds of impounding vehicles without custom duties is to say the least, very insensitive, embarrassing and disappointing from the Nigerian Customs. For heck sake, is this a search for explosives? I want to believe they are looking for just cars without duties. They could have achieved a better result with more intelligence work done and operations carried out covertly, more discreetly and applying more professionalism.
I mean this is a brand that just clinched a grand total of nine awards at the recent 26th World Travel Awards for Africa and Europe in June this year. Despite having opened barely a year ago, Fraser Suites Abuja superseded long-time hospitality players in Africa to clinch the coveted title of Nigeria’s Leading Serviced Apartments. Where did they go wrong? This is very bad for their reputation, and I call on every well-meaning Nigerian to condemn such act which is counterproductive if we must continue to attract such noble brands to invest in Nigeria.