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Senate Asks Customs To Return Rice ‘Seized’ In Ibadan Markets
The Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges on Tuesday directed the Nigeria Customs Service to return the bags of rice and money which its officials allegedly seized recently from some shops in the Oja Oba market in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Officials of the NCS had last week invaded the market and carted away eight truckloads of rice and money found in the shops of the affected traders.
The NCS carried out the operation, barely a month after they raided the Bodija International Market, where they also carted away numerous bags of rice.
The development forced the Senator representing Oyo South Senatorial District, Kola Balogun, to forward a petition to the upper chamber on behalf of the beleaguered traders last week.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, referred the petition to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate the allegation of invasion and looting against the NCS.
The Senate Committee at its sitting, on Tuesday, condemned the act and described it as totally unacceptable.
The panel then asked the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, represented by his Assistant Comptroller General, Garba Mohammed, to ensure that the seized goods were returned to the affected traders within two weeks.
It also directed that their shops should be unlocked while money taken from the shops must be equally returned.
Members of the panel were unanimous in their condemnation of the NCS, insisting that its action was a breach of the Customs Act and the Executive Order signed by former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007.
The legislation empowers the agency to only impound smuggled goods, 40 kilometers radius to the border.
The Chairman of the panel, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, recalled that a similar string operation carried out by the NCS in Katsina State led to the dismissal of the officer, who led the operations.