Senate has mandated its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate the alleged invasion of rice traders’ shops by men of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, that resulted in the carting away of goods to the tune of N85 million.
This followed receipt of a petition from the Ibadan Foodstuff Sellers Association addressed to the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan through the senator representing Oyo South District, Kola Balogun.
According to the lawmaker, 3,046 bags of rice worth N79,196,000; 25kg vegetable oil numbering 14; the cash of N4,862,000; and 15kg bags of gari were carted away by men of the NCS during a forceful invasion of shops in the absence of the traders.
The association, in the petition, stated: “the unfortunate night invasion of the Bodija International Market, Ibadan and the forceful breakage of the rice traders’ shops by men of the Nigerian Customs, Ikeja Unit, Lagos happened on 31st March through 1st April 2021.
“Our shops and warehouses were forcefully opened in our absence and the following items were carted away: 3,046 bags of Rice at N26,000 per bag – N79,196,000; 14 (Nos) 25kg Vegetable Oil; Cash of N4,862,000.00; and One (Nos) 15kg Bag of Gari.
“It is pertinent to report to you, Sir, that five (5 nos) shops still remain under special white padlock, the same that was put on the forcefully broke ones.
“The Ibadan Customs Unit has advised us not to unlock the locked shops for reasons unknown to us and owners of the shops have been rendered helpless. They cannot access their shops and neither can they trade in anything. Their families have been suffering.
“We seek the intervention of your highly esteemed office for the immediate return of all the items and cash carted away from our shops and warehouses.
“We also seek for the Red Chamber’s investigation into the reasons behind the forceful raid on our shops. We demand that such raid should stop henceforth and this one should be the last of such action on the innocent peaceful traders in our market.
“We demand that tight security arrangements be put in place in the market by the government to protect our products after closure from business activities of the day to avoid looting of our shops by hoodlums who might want to follow the illegal footsteps of the men of the Nigerian Customs Service.
“We demand that the Nigeria Customs should be warned against the use of the crude and cruel method of infringing on traders’ properties and products.
“That the action of the Nigeria Customs is seriously infringing on our rights to trade in legitimate items within the country as the midnight invasion violates all democratic principles.”
The Senate President referred the petition to the Senator Ayo Akinyelure-led Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition for investigation.
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