The Senate on Thursday mandated its Committee on Customs, Tariff and Excise to investigate alleged unlawful raid of rice shops at Kayero Market, Sango Ota, Ogun by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that officials of the service were said to have raided the market on Feb. 22 and allegedly carted away goods and other commodities described as contraband.
The senate’s resolution followed a motion by Sen. Gbolahan Dada (Ogun-APC), who alleged that the Customs officers broke into shops and made away with goods worth billions of naira.
Dada argued that by the provisions of the Customs and Excise Management Act, the officers lacked constitutional and statutory powers to break into shops or premises without a valid court order or search warrant.
He said that by the provisions of the law, “even when such order or warrant is obtained, it must be executed in the presence of witnesses or concerned shop or premises owner.
Dada explained that the essence of that provision was to preserve the rule of law, avoid breakdown of law and order and prevent self-help remedies by aggrieved persons.
He said that the Sango Ota raid was not the first time officers of the service would engage in such perceived lawless action against Nigerian traders.
While condemning the act, Dada said that it was highly unconscionable for officers of Nigeria Customs Service to claim that the confiscated bags of rice and cartons of vegetable oil were smuggled products.
“The unlawful action of officers of Nigeria Customs Service for raiding shops indiscriminately and confiscating goods already in the country is becoming worrisome, disturbing and capable of breaching fragile peace we are enjoying in this country.
“If nothing is done by this hallowed chamber to stop unlawful raids of shops and confiscation of goods without obtaining valid court order or search warrant, a time is coming when Nigerians will resist such untoward action.”
In his contribution, Sen. Adamu Aliero (Kebbi-APC) opposed the motion, arguing that the Customs officers simply carried out their legitimate constitutional assignment and should not be queried by the parliament.
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But, Sen. Murtala Nyako (Adamawa-APC) countered him, insisting that the matter must be investigated to ascertain the true position of the allegation, whether or not the officers acted within the law.
He pointed out that it was not proper for the officers to break into the shops of traders as alleged without authorization as specified by the law. Nyako stressed that constituted authorities must respect the law of the land and the rights of citizens.
When put to voice vote by the Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at the plenary, the motion was overwhelmingly supported and adopted.
Consequently, Ekweremadu directed the Committee of Customs, Tariffs and Excise to investigate the matter urgently.