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Your Refusal to return seized rice will have dire Consequences – Kola Balogun warns Customs





Senator representing Oyo South Senatorial District of Oyo state has hinted about the possible power clash between the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions with the leadership of the Nigeria Customs Services (NCS) over their refusal to return bags of seized rice from the Oja-Oba market in Oyo State.



Senator Kola Balogun while speaking with a popular news media; the Nigerian Tribune in a telephone interview on Sunday, cautioned the NCS not to instigate a war the commission could neither win nor finish.



Balogun, who incidentally is a member of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions vowed that the committee will be forced to explore other options available to it to ensure that the Col Hameed Ali-led Customs Service defer to its resolutions to return the seized goods to their owners.



Senator Balogun further dismissed spokesmen of the agency as uninformed Nigerians who are ignorant of the statutory responsibilities of the National Assembly.


He said: “The statement credited to Customs was nonsensical, it doesn’t make sense. It also means that it must be coming from someone who is so uninformed about the powers of the legislature.



“Yes, we have the powers to make laws, we also have what we call oversight powers the legislature, and they are instruments for nation building.



“The legislature is an institution which represents the collective interest of the citizenry, through the enactment of laws and the exercise of oversight functions on the activities of the Executive arm of government.



“The legislature in a democracy exists as an independent institution which deepens democracy and ultimately, strengthens the polity.



“This is where they are getting it wrong. It is wrong to say we are usurping the powers of the judiciary. No! That’s not what we are doing. We enact laws and we also can talk about the application of that law. In any case, where there are procedural errors on the part of those who are to execute the law, it is our duty to call them to order.



“It isn’t about interpreting the law. They also admit during our interactions with them, because we put it to them that even going by the so-called Customs Act that they are brandishing to oppress the people of this country, we put it to them that do they also realize that they weren’t supposed to go there in the absence of the shop owners?


“The excuse they are giving is that because they have to minimize the incidence of violence because when the owners are there, they would resist. Is that enough excuse for you to break the law? Is that an excuse for them to circumvent the Act that they are using to protect as an alibi to defend their nefarious activities?



“What they did was purely armed robbery. How can you go there and pick people’s money? Now they are saying they only found N6,000 they took from the shops and the shop owners are saying something different. If you count any money while you were there, in whose presence did you take the money?”


Senator Balogun, who did not give details on the Senate Committee next line of action if the NCS ignored its resolution at the end of its two weeks deadline, however, warned of dire consequences for the revenue generating agency.



“At the meeting with them, remember Senator Smart Adeyemi had already served them notice.


He said: “if you don’t comply with our order, we have options!



“Of course, we have other options but I won’t tell you what the options are until the two weeks must have expired and then we go back to meet and then also report to the Senate. I think they had better not start a war they can neither win nor finish, because it is going to be very unfortunate for them. The laws are made for people, not people made for the laws.



“We have problem of insecurity, arms and ammunition are coming through the borders, they aren’t policing these borders but running after rice sellers in market places!”



Recall that NCS officers had invaded the market and carted away eight truckloads of rice and money found in the shops of the affected traders some weeks back. Individual senators expressed reservations that the action of the NCS was a breach of the Customs Act and the Executive Order signed by former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007 which empowers the agency to only impound smuggled goods, 40 kilometers radius to the border.

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