Home Business Nigeria Customs’ Gestapo Rice Raid by Festus Adedayo

Nigeria Customs’ Gestapo Rice Raid by Festus Adedayo

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In a Nigeria where the abnormal and the skewed are fast becoming the norm, not many people were shocked at the impunity of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) which took place a few weeks ago in Ibadan, Oyo State. Its operatives had raided Oja Oba and Bodija markets at about 1.00 a.m, broke into shops and warehouses like night marauders and in the process, bags of rice were carted away in six trailers, as well as unspecified amounts of money.

On the intervention of the senator representing Oyo South, Senator Kola Balogun, the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges not only condemned this Gestapo-like raid but gave a two-week ultimatum for the seized bags of rice to be returned. However, events thereafter showed that in an ungoverned space that Nigeria has become, where everybody is muzzling to outdo one another in spates of impunity, the NCS is stiff-neckedly sticking to its curious lawlessness and justifying same. In an interview with a national newspaper at the weekend, NCS’ spokesmen, Joseph Attah and Timi Bomodi, literally told the senate to go bowl a hoop. With a fallacious argument of false dichotomy, the two men validated the raid based on their justification of an earlier raid by the NCS. “Is it today that Customs has been raiding markets? Why is so much noise about the Ibadan raid? When Customs raided markets in Mubi in Adamawa State and another notorious market in Kano, why wasn’t there any outrage?” he said.

Warped as this reasoning, a false dilemma, is Attah further cited Section 147 of the CEMA law which he claimed gave NCS the Gestapo power to raid. That same CEMA has been severally cited as allowing seizure of suspected contraband only within 50 miles radius of the border. NCS has also been asked why its men would take away money from the raided shops as well. Bomodi in fact queried the constitutional powers of the National Assembly to perform its oversight functions as he claimed that only the courts could query obvious illegality.

It is only in a country where there are no laws and where order is on sabbatical that this NCS impunity will go unchecked. The mere fact that the NCS chose nocturnes to carry out its operations first alerts the mind to the darkness behind the action. This same NCS that flexes its muscles at bags of rice in the market is completely and hopelessly inept to curtail the influx of arms that has become a pestilence in Nigeria. It also shut its eyes to the seamless movement of contraband goods and illegal aliens at the Nigerian northern border flanks while Buhari’s discriminatory border closure lasted.

In all these, we must thank Senator Balogun for bringing the plight of his Oyo constituents to the attention of the whole Nigeria, via the senate. The senator must however not rest on his oars until the fascism and gross impunity that the NCS is inflicting on hapless Nigerian traders is brought to a stop.


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