…As Navy nabs 20 suspected smugglers, seizes 1,425 bags of rice***
Lawmakers in the Lagos State House of Assembly on Tuesday decried the incessant seizure of farm products like coconuts from Badagry border community by men of the Nigeria Customs Service and other security agents.
The lawmakers also urged Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to direct the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs Lola Akande, to organise stakeholders’ meeting between the Customs officials and owners of the seized goods.
The House’s resolution followed a motion moved by Mr Setonji David, representing Constituency Badagry II, over confiscation of farm products by the customs officers in the area.
David had, in his motion, called on the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hammed Ali, to direct his men to stop further harassment of coconut sellers within Badagry and its environs.
The assemblyman said that his people were “passing through hell” with the continuous harassment of members of the Lagos State Coconut Sellers and Traders Association by customs officials in Badagry.
He said the comptroller-general should direct the Coordinator, Border Drill Operations Team, Zone ‘A’ Ikeja, to immediately release the seized two trucks and pickup load of 1,450 bags of locally sourced coconut.
“On Oct. 27, two trucks and a pick-up car load of 1,450 bags of locally sourced coconuts on transit was seized by men of the Nigeria Customs Border Drill Operations Zone ‘A’ Ikeja.
“The seizure took place at the Agbara Customs Point after it had left the popular Agbalata Central Coconuts Market beside the Customs base in Badagry,” David said.
Contributing, Mr Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni, representing Lagos Island I Constituency, said that the activities of customs in Badagry was condemnable.
Eshinlokun-Sanni said that the action of the service could discourage the local farmers from performing their legitimate works in the area.
Also, Mr Olayiwola Olawale, representing Mushin II Constituency, spoke in support of the motion, sympathising with the affected residents and traders.
Olawale said that incessant seizure of farm products, not contrabands, from genuine farmers by customs officials was worrisome.
On his part, Mr Sanai Agunbiade, representing Ikorodu I Constituency, said that activities of the customs men were affecting farmers in the area.
Agunbiade said the way people were being harassed showed that something was wrong between the customs and owners of farm products in the area.
In his ruling, Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, directed the Clerk, Mr Azeez Sanni, to communicate the House’s resolution to the state governor for further action on the issue.
In another development, the Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom, has arrested 20 suspects and seized 1, 425 bags of smuggled rice within one week.
The Commanding Officer, FOB, Navy Capt. Peter Yilme disclosed this to newsmen in Ibaka on Tuesday.
Yilme, who was represented by the Base Operations Officer, Lt.-Cdr. Kabiru Yusuf, said that the arrests were made in four different operations between Nov. 12 and Nov. 18.
The Navy Capt. said that its gunboats during patrols on Effiat waterways seized the boats carrying 50kg bags of rice brought in from the Republic of Cameroon.
Yilme, while handing over the suspects and items to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), said the Nigerian Navy has zero tolerance for criminality.
“Four wooden boats carrying a combined 1,425 bags of 50kg parboiled rice suspected to be smuggled into the country and 20 suspects were impounded and arrested by the Forward Operating Base, Ibaka.
“The handover of the 20 suspects and 1,425 bags of rice on Tuesday 19 November, 2019 goes to show the resolve of the Base not to relent on its oars. The arrests were made between November 12 and 18, 2019.
“I commend the untiring efforts of the officers and ratings in ensuring the mandate and tasks of the Base are achieved.
“I also appreciate the immense effort of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok E. Ibas for providing the necessary platform and logistic support for the Base to carry out its operations,” he said.
The officer warned smugglers to desist from the act, especially within Foward Operating Base, Ibaka area of operation.
He said the FOB, in the last one month has handed over 3,800 bags of smuggled rice, 60 drums of illegally refined Automated Gas Oil (AGO), and 60 suspects to the Customs component of Operation Swift Response for necessary action.
Receiving the suspects and items, Deputy Superintendent of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mr Alabi Adedokun commended the Navy for the cooperation existing between the agency.
“On behalf of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), I, Alabi Adedokun take over the 20 suspects and 1,425 bags of rice. On behalf of the Nigeria Customs Service, we thank you very much,” he said.