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Lawyers label NCS Bodija Market Midnight Raid Reckless, Lawless



Lawyers have described the recent raid of Bodija market by Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) officers as “illegal and unconstitutional”, as well as a breach of fundamental human rights.

This statement was delivered as a rebuttal to the NCS stating that it has a constitutional right to raid any suspected area for smuggled goods, further adding that the average Nigeria is likely to sympathize with smugglers who they see as bringing business opportunities instead of regarding such people as criminals.

In an interview with Sunday Tribune, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Yomi Aliu said that the raid was an illegal act that has to be punished immediately as the breach of constitutional rights that it is. He also went to say that it was a serious breach of the constitutional rights of the Bodija market women.

In his words: “it was a serious breach of the fundamental human rights of the market women. The constitution is supreme to any other law the Customs may wish to rely on. It is trespass.”

“Apart from being an act of brigandage, it is oppressive, provocative, unconscionable and executive lawlessness. The women should sue the life out of Customs to put an end to this. What they took bribe to allow into Nigeria, they are now using night cover to do in private shops, shooting their prey from behind. Did they have any search warrant? And if they had, could same be executed behind the owners of the shops? This is a gross act of impunity,” Aliu stated.

Another SAN, Emeka Ozoani, also shared that invasion of the market by the NCS officials was unlawful and urged the market women to sue as legally, the customs officers had no right to conduct the raid.

He said: “The invasion of Bodija market in the middle of the night and subsequent forceful entry into people’s shops was unlawful and an act of brigandage. The alleged discoveries by Customs officers have no evidential credibility in law.

“The market women have the right to sue Customs within three months for trespass, stealing, destruction of their stalls, conversion and detinue of their wares, among other forms of illegality,” .


Reacting to the SAN comments, the NCS hit back, stating that they have the right to raid any premises they suspect of containing smuggled items, adding that the NCS has the right to seize, remove and even arrest the owner of any property they find smuggled goods at.

In an interview with the Sunday Tribune, The Customs Public Relations Officer (CPRO), Joseph Attah made the statement above, adding that customs officers have been empowered by the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) to carry out such raids.

In his words: “Section 147 of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) gives us the power to go into any premises – it can be shops, it can be market, it can be houses, anywhere that we reasonably believe that smuggled items are being kept.

“We are empowered to use reasonable force to remove any impediment to be able to access such items which we are also empowered to seize, remove, detain and if we see the owner, arrest, with a view to prosecuting such.”

Attah rounded up his reply by adding that those who have had smuggled items seized from them usually come up with such claims to deflect from their guilt and to discredit the NCS’s successful operation.

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