Oja-Oba Invasion: Senate Orders Customs to Return Seized Rice Within Two Weeks

The National Assembly, through the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges, has ordered the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to return the seized bags of rice and money which its officials purportedly carted away recently from some shops in the Oja Oba market in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

Condemning the act and describing it as unacceptable, barbaric and unfair, the panel during plenary on Tuesday, requested the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali who was represented by his Assistant Comptroller General, Garba Mohammed, to guarantee that the seized goods were returned to the affected traders within a stipulated period of two weeks.

Recall that officials of the Nigeria Customs Services (NCS) had last week invaded the Oja-Oba market and carted away eight truckloads of rice and money found in the shops of the affected traders.

The illegal operation was carried out barely a month after some officials of NCS raided Bodija International Market in the same Ibadan, Oyo state, where they also carted away numerous bags of rice.

The unlawful invasion prompted the Senator representing Oyo South Senatorial District, Kola Balogun, to forward a petition to the Red Chamber on behalf of the angry traders last week.

The panel also directed that affected shops should be immediately unlocked while money taken from the shops be 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 kilometres radius of 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.

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