“Return rice seized in Ibadan markets” – Senate tells Customs

The Nigeria Customs Service was ordered by the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges on Tuesday to return bags of rice and money that its officials allegedly confiscated recently from some shops in Ibadan’s Oja Oba market.

Last week, NCS officials stormed the market, removing eight truckloads of rice and cash from the shops of the affected traders.

The operation was carried out by the NCS just a month after they raided the Bodija International Market, taking several bags of rice with them.

The development prompted Senator Kola Balogun of the Oyo South Senatorial District to file a petition in the upper chamber on behalf of the beleaguered traders last week.

The petition was referred to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges, and Public Petitions by Senate President Ahmad Lawan, who would investigate the accusation of invasion and looting against the NCS.

The act was condemned and represented as totally unacceptable by the Senate Committee during its meeting on Tuesday.

The panel then directed the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, to ensure that the confiscated goods were returned to the affected traders within two weeks, as represented by his Assistant Comptroller General, Garba Mohammed.

It also ordered that their shops be unlocked and that any money taken from them be returned in equal amounts.

The panelists unanimously condemned the NCS, claiming that its actions were in violation of the Customs Act and an Executive Order signed by former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007.

The law only allows the agency to seize illegal goods within a 40-kilometer radius of the border.

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Senator Ayo Akinyelure, the panel’s Chairman, recalled that a similar string operation conducted by the NCS in Katsina State resulted in the dismissal of the officer in charge of the operations.

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