The market women operating at Ifo market in Ifo Local Government area of Ogun State have alleged the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), of invading their shops and market, forcefully impounding 70 bags of rice.
Penpushing reports that, the traders who made the allegation said the customs officials numbering about ten stormed the market at about 1am on Saturday and broke their shops to remove the bags of rice which were packed inside an Hilux bus brought by them.
The complainants among them Alhaja Mojue, Mummy Korede, Mrs Orelaja and Mrs Oluwatoyin Ayanyemi while narrating their experiences said the actions of the customs has wrecked them financially and emotionally
Penpushing further reports that, Mojue in her account said, ’Customs did not give us breathing space, they arrived the market midnight, broke into shops, in my shop alone they took away ten bags and they were fully armed and came in an Hilux bus. We have run into huge debt now’
The colleague of the first complainant, known as Mummy Korede while narrating her own experience said, ‘the customs came to my shop forcefully opened containers and took away 26 bags of rice, they operated for over one hour, it was the vigilante in the market who drew our attention to their presence in the market, my two other neighbors lost 17, 10 respectively, and that’s how the customs used to come midnight, even they check our private residences’
Penpushing also reports that, Mrs Orelaja in her own account said, ‘customs have become a thorn in our flesh, they are fond of ransacking our shops and homes, with guns, 10 bags of mine bags of rice and 17 belonging to my neighbor were taken away, as well as another 26 bags. We are now in debt’
The third victim, Mrs Oluwatoyin Ayanyemi alleged that, ‘customs had earlier took away 15 bags of rice in my home, I almost passed out when they came with guns, there was nobody to help us when they started the operations’
‘They came like a thief in the night, we were helpless seeing them loading the bags of rice into the vehicle they brought. Many of us are breadwinners of the family. We have been financially wrecked; we survive on micro finance bank loan. Please help us beg them’
Penpushing further reports that, the Command Public Relations Officer, Oloyede in response to the allegation declared that, the rice in question were smuggled, which is against the law of the country, adding that, the said traders knew this, yet they still engaged in illegality
‘Let me tell you something, you understand very well. This rice you are talking about is nothing but smuggled rice. And they have so many porous borders. I mean so many ways unapproved routes. They always try to be ahead of us’, he explained
‘We always try to block the illegal routes they created. So if they tell you they forced their shops open, it is not a matter of looting a shop. We worked based on intelligence, information. So if we eventually, while they were carrying out such an act, because they always try to play smart, and they try to beat us, so if eventually where they keep or housed those things, they trail them and found it and intercepted ,so you should not pity them’
‘Why should you have to pity such people? You should understand. These items you are talking about are smuggled items. If it is local rice, there is nothing to talk about, but these things are smuggled rice, imported, foreign rice. So that is just it’, Oloyede declared
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