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Customs Petitioned Over Extortion, Harassment Of Motorists

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THE lawmaker representing Ovia Federal Constituency of Edo State in the House of Representatives, Dennis Idahosa, has petitioned the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, over the extortion and harassment of motorists and other road users by  operatives of the NSC at Ekiadolor, along the Benin-Ore-Lagos highway, Ovia North East Local Government Area.

The petition, dated August 17, 2021, was made available to newsmen in Benin by his Special Adviser on Media, Friday Aghedo.

Idahosa, in the petition, said his constituency office had been inundated with complaints arising from the activities of the Customs officers stationed at Ekiadolor.

He said their activities had made that axis of the federal highway unfriendly to road users as most times, unnecessary traffic is created.

Idahosa recalled that the activities of the Customs men on the highway had resulted in the deaths of some Nigerians.

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While acknowledging the fact that the activities of smugglers and importers of contraband goods must be checked, he noted that this should not be used as an avenue to extort and harass innocent and hard-working Nigerians.

The petition reads in part, “Having been inundated with the calls and letters by concern Nigerians and a fact-finding mission by my humble self, I then took the decision to personally notify your humble office sir.

“This unprofessional conduct that involves extortion and harassment of motorists by some officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operation Unit (FOU), stationed at Ekiadolor, has become an embarrassment to road users.

“It has been noted that the operatives even boast openly that they are the most callous in Nigeria and to show that their loots are huge, they are alleged to have occupied one full hotel for a long time, close to their checkpoint. They lavish monies illegally obtained from Nigerian commuters who most times have their correct Custom papers or have brought in goods as personal effects.”

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According to Idahosa, about a year ago, two young Nigerians were killed by the officers because of an argument which ensued over two bags of rice and the culprits are yet to be brought to book.

He said the high costs of goods in the South-South and the South-East of Nigeria could be traced to their activities as they extort everybody no matter how poor and how high.

Idahosa said, “Sometimes, they impound cars and goods and resell It to themselves, using cronies and agents in sham auction states that are like a well-rehearsed re-enactment of a criminal conspiracy, practised at night as they even have civilian collaborators, some of whom are locals.

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“This personnel have turned Ekiadolor, along the Lagos-Ore-Benin highway into a theatre of unprofessionalism, thereby bringing the Nigerian Customs Service to disrepute. I earnestly seek your prompt intervention in the matter by not allowing the operatives to proceed with such irregularities and circumvention of the law and due process.”

Idahosa appealed to the Customs boss to order an immediate inquiry into the alleged offences and misconduct.

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