Senate asks Customs to return seized goods to traders

The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions has asked the Nigeria Customs Service to return the goods it seized from shops of rice traders in Ibadan, Oyo State.

The committee’s chairman, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, stated this after his panel heard a petition from the rice traders.

The traders had, through Senator Kola Balogun (Oyo South), petitioned the Senate, alleging that men of the Nigerian Customs invaded Oja Oba and Bodija markets in Ibadan, and carted away goods worth millions of Naira.

Senator Akinyelure urged the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, represented by Assistant Comptroller General Garba Mohammmed, to return the seized goods to the traders within two weeks, unlock their shops and return the money taken from the shops.

Responding, Mohammmed said: “Section 147 of the Customs Act has empowered us for the purpose of carrying out the powers given to police officers to search premises where there is ground to suspect that contrabands were concealed, whether day or night.

“We have the right to break windows or shops where there are reasonable grounds.

“The seizure was based on intelligence gathering. We don’t intend to put people out of business. The CG of Customs is a transparent person. The case of Katsina state, I don’t know the circumstances. If it is foreign rice, I doubt if it would have been returned.”

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