NCS Dares Senate over Rice Seizure…
…Asks Lawmakers not to usurp court’s powers
THE Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has told the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges to focus on lawmaking and not usurp the powers of other arms of government by interpreting the laws of the land.
This is coming on the heels of a two-week ultimatum given to the NCS by the Senate committee to return bags of rice seized at the popular Oja Oba and Bodija markets in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, recently.
Reacting to a viral video which shows the committee lampooning Customs over raids on markets, the Customs NCS spokesmen, Joseph Attah said that the Customs is backed by law to raid any place once there is enough intelligence that contrabands abound there.
Attah said: “Is it today that Customs has been raiding markets? Why is there so much noise about the Ibadan raid? When Customs raided markets in Mubi in Adamawa State and another notorious market in Kano, why wasn’t there any outrage?
“Section 147 of the CEMA law gives the Customs powers to do this. Again, comparing what happened in Ibadan to what happened in Katsina State is totally wrong. These are two different scenarios. What happened in Ibadan can only be compared to a raid that happened in Ilorin where a lady came forward to say her rice was locally made. After a careful examination and the discovery that the rice was not foreign rice, her bags were returned to her.
“If the traders in Ibadan say theirs are not bags of foreign rice, let them come forward with proof. If their claims are genuine, their bags of rice will be returned to them.”
When told that the Senate committee raised allegations of Customs officers taking money away from the raided shops while carrying out the operation, the Customs spokesman explained that money was only found in one bag of rice.
“While giving account of the number of bags of rice seized from the Ibadan markets, a particular bag was found to contain N522,350. The money is there, intact and in safe custody. Whoever claims to be the owner should come and collect it with proof of ownership,” the Customs spokesman added.