The House of Representatives on Tuesday asked the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to lift the ban on the distribution of petroleum products to fuel stations at towns and communities within 20 kilometres of border area in Nigeria.
The House in a motion moved by Representative Sada Soli said the ban is causing untold hardship on people living in these border communities, including Nigerians.
According to Soli, the order by the customs boss contravenes the provisions of the Customs and Excise Act.
Other lawmakers who seconded Soli’s motion agreed that the border closure is already biting hard on these communities, and denying them petroleum products. They added that this will only worsen the situation.
The NCS in a bid to tackle illegal smuggling had placed a ban on the sale of petroleum products within 20 kilometres of any border area in Nigeria.
Comptroller-General of the Customs Service, Colonel Hameed Ali (retd.) last week directed that no petroleum products should be supplied to any filling station within 20 kilometres to the border.
The Nigeria Customs Service says it has arrested a syndicate of 15 people who allegedly re-bag foreign rice as local rice for sale to unsuspecting consumers.
The Comptroller of Customs in Adamawa and Taraba States Command, Kamardeen Olumoh, disclosed this on Tuesday when he led Journalists to the scene of the crime at a warehouse in Yola, the Adamawa State capital.
According to him, the suspects were found with 900 bags of rice with duty paid value of N14.5 million.
Olumoh explained that operatives of the command busted the warehouse in conjunction with others from the Federal Operation Units and Strike Force, as part of efforts towards sustaining the fight against smuggling in the country.
He revealed that 15 people, including the manager and labourers at the warehouse, were rounded up by the security operatives while carrying out their nefarious act.
Thereafter, the comptroller proceeded with the reporters to the Customs Headquarters in Yola where it has seized a truckload of grains intercepted by operatives along the Mubi-Yola Road.
He said investigation revealed that the truck was also carrying foreign rice re-bagged as local rice concealed under bags of beans with a duty paid value of N10.3 million.
Three suspects were also arrested in the process and all the arrested suspects would be prosecuted, Olumoh added.
While the Nigerian Government has since closed its borders with neighbouring countries, the comptroller described the activities of smugglers as sabotage.
He, therefore, warned smugglers that Adamawa and Taraba States remain no go areas for them as the Command would soon embark on raiding markets in search of smuggled foreign rice.
Olumoh also appealed to market heads to caution their members against the sale of foreign rice as a way of supporting local farmers who have the capacity of feeding the nation.
Thousands were said to have been left stranded as reports of the closure of the nation’s borders emerged in late August.
In its reaction, the Nigerian government denied closure of the borders but explained that it was carrying out a joint operation at various locations involving Customs operatives and that of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) among others.
The Comptroller-General of NIS, Mr Muhammad Babandede, in an earlier interview with Channels Television, said, “There is no border closure but there was a border drill and there was an announcement from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).”
The Nigeria Government has handed over six Mine-Resistant and All-Terrain Armoured Military Vehicles (MRTV) intercepted in August, to the American government.
Speaking during the handing over ceremony, the Comptroller of Customs in charge of Adamawa and Taraba States, Kamardeen Olumoh, said it is in line with a directive from the National Security Adviser to release the vehicle to the American Government.
“There is no doubt that somethings were left undone and of course, diplomacy will always reign supreme and perhaps that’s why the directive came that all things are sorted out and we should ensure compliance and ensure we assist in all possible ways to ensure that they are evacuated.”
In appreciation, the Deputy Chief of Missions, Embassy of United States of America in Nigeria Kathleen FitzGibbon thanked the Nigerian government for its understanding and for securing the vehicles.
“I’m sorry that we have caused some inconvenience and the next few days will be interesting on how we are going to move them out in terms of logistics. Your patience, flexibility, I can’t tell you how grateful we are.”
The six Mine-Resistant Military Vehicles were intercepted by a combined team of security agencies in August this year in Konkol, Maiha local government of Adamawa state, a border community on the Nigeria Cameroon border.
The trucks were intercepted while transiting from Cameroon to Niger via the Nigerian border.
A 20-year-old secondary school student has been killed after a Mercedes Benz ML rammed into a group of people.
The vehicle had been intercepted by men of the Customs Service in Ogun State, from smugglers.
Customs Public Relations Officer, Abdulahi Maiwada, who confirmed the incident, said it happened when students of the Ojumo Community Secondary School were closing from school.
According to him, three others sustained injuries.
“Officers of the Nigeria Customs Service Ogun Command on routine patrol intercepted a vehicle (Mercedes Benz ML) suspected to have been smuggled into Nigeria,” he said.
“In the process of conveying the said vehicle driven by an Officer of the Service fully escorted by official patrol vehicle, an okada man conveying a passenger crossed their path.
“In a swift response by the driver to avoid collusion with the Okada rider, he lost control and rammed into some group of people coincidentally on a market day of Ihumbo Community.
“Unfortunately one of the victims, a 20-year-old student of Ojumo Community Secondary School named Opeyemi Odusinan, instantly died and three people sustained various degrees of injuries.”
According to the statement, two of those injured have been discharged from the hospital with the third person, identified as Sunday Adeniyi, is still receiving treatment at the General Hospital Idiroko.
The command expressed its condolences to the family, school and friends of the deceased.
It also prayed that God grants them the fortitude to bear the ‘irreparable loss’.
Furthermore, the command stated that it is working assiduously to carter for those who had sustained injuries.
It, however, condemned those it described as mischief makers for taking advantage of the situation to attack Customs vehicles.
The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, has decried the spate of smuggling across the country calling for concerted efforts in curbing the menace.
Speaking to journalists during his operational visit to Idiroko border in Ogun State, Ali noted that said the nation’s border posts will remain closed indefinitely until such a time movement of goods and persons as established by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol are strictly adhered to.
The Customs boss also dismissed some insinuations that the closure was meant to be in force within 28 days.
He explained that decision was taken to checkmate the proliferation of firearms, importation of contraband and other illegal activities by unpatriotic individuals along the land borders.
“Smuggling is an offence; many of you may not accept it that smuggling is an offence. Any illicit thing you bring into this country has a way the consequences on our economy, security and well-being.
“We have gotten to a point whereby we must do something drastic in order to stop this. Otherwise, we will be finished,” he said.
Speaking further, Ali explained that criminals have been better equipped following the smuggling of weapons into the country.
He added, “Kidnapping, banditry is everywhere. Those doing that is not because they are stronger than me and you, but because they have guns in their hands. If it is man to man, many of them will not be on the streets.”
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has awarded damages amounting to over N5.5billion against the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the Chairman, Nigerian Customs Service Board (NCSB) over their unlawful seizure of 90 containers of rice imported by a firm, Maggpiy Trading TFZE.
Maggpiy stated in its suit, claimed that on March 18, 2017, officials of the NCS invaded and sealed up its warehouse in the Tinapa Free Trade Zone (TFTZ), Calabar, containing over 90containers of rice stored in air-tight containers.
The plaintiff averred that in addition to sealing its warehouse with its content, officials of the NCS stole part of the seized rice and detained its 40 trucks, containing 317 transit containers of rice, destined for the Tinapa Free Trade Zone, without lawful justification for 120 days along Onne, Port-Harcourt road.
Delivering judgment on the suit, Justice Inyang Ekwo upheld the plaintiff’s claims and held that the 1st and 2nd respondents – NCS and the Chairman, NCSB – acted unlawfully and without any justification in law.
Justice Ekwo rejected the defence raised by the NCS and the Chairman, NCSB and their attempt to justify their actions as he faulted the 1st and 2nd defendants’ claim that the plaintiff, in importing rice, acted outside its operating licence which was for the plaintiff to trade in food and beverages in Tinapa Free Trade Zone.
A Customs officer, Assistant Superintendent of Customs, Nura Dahiru, is currently undergoing medical examination for promoting himself to the rank of Comptroller-General and wearing the rank of a Deputy Comptroller General, to the Customs Headquarters in Abuja on Monday.
According to the Public Relations Officer of NCS, Mr Joseph Attah, a doctor was invited when the officer from Katsina state, visited the Customs CG, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) in his office and asked to take over as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari according to him.
He stated that Mr Dahiru was arrested after questions were asked and it showed that he was not in the right frame of mind.
“An ASC1 Officer by name Nura Dalhatu from Katsina state, Promoted himself to the Rank of CGC & Visited the Comptroller General (Col. Hameed Ali) in his office to take over as the new CGC as directed by the president according to him. He has since been arrested.
“From questions and answers that followed, it was obvious that he was not in the right frame of mind, so a Doctor was immediately invited.
“He is presently undergoing a medical examination at the medical unit of the service,” he added.
The Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), has asked Nigerians to stop eating foreign rice noting that they are poisonous.
Speaking at a news conference organized by the ministry of finance, the Customs Boss said that the Federal Government is yet to issue license for importation of rice and that any rice seen on the streets that was not produced in Nigeria is smuggled.
He said that imported rice is poisonous because before coming into the country, it must have spent a minimum of five years in the silos.
“A chemical must have been added to sustain its freshness and that chemical is harmful.
“Also, it has been re-bagged with a new date given as the production and expiry dates, and that is what we consume here which causes diseases.
“So, I appeal to Nigerians to please patronise our own rice, it is available, more nutritious and if you do that you will assist customs by making sure these people (smugglers) are put out of business.”
Ali said that rice importation was one of the biggest challenges the agency was encountering, adding that it still happens because Nigerians consume imported rice.
He added that if Nigerians stop buying the imported rice, smugglers will go out of business and there will be no need to bring it in.
“We always ask for assistance from Nigerians to apprehend these smugglers, but up till now, there is no private citizen that has walked up to us to give us information, the only people giving us information are the rice millers.”
The Nigeria Customs Service says it has detained four members of the patrol team involved in the killing of a civilian ‘friend’ named Godwin Onoja.
According to a statement by its spokesman, DC Joseph Attah, a panel set up to investigate the killing could not conclude its investigation because the officer, who accidentally shot Onoja, Destiny Onebamho, was receiving medical attention after he was attacked by motorists following the killing.
Attah said following the unfortunate incident on Sunday 17th February 2019 at Shagamu Interchange involving Operatives of the Federal Operations Unit Zone A, the Customs has continued to maintain close contact with the bereaved family.
“We are pained by this sad development and share the grief of losing a fellow compatriot in a seemingly avoidable circumstance. We are and will continue to take every necessary step that will cushion the pain associated with losing a dear one,” Attah stated.
He further informed that the Comptroller-General of Customs Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) has directed a thorough investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the incident with the view to ensuring that justice is served.
“In line with this directive, the investigation panel headed by the Zonal Coordinator Zone A, ACG Kaycee Ekekezie has interrogated and detained four members of the patrol team.
“The panel could not immediately conclude the investigation because the actual officer (ASCI Destiny Onebamho) whose riffle discharged is presently receiving medical attention as a result of attack following the unfortunate incident.
“He will face the panel as soon as he is fit to do so, to enable the panel to conclude the investigation and recommend appropriate action(s).
“NCS is a reputable organization known for integrity and responsibility. In line with our corporate values, we will not shield any operative found wanting in this ongoing investigation. The Service appreciates the public concern and strong emotions drawn from the viral video with narratives that created various opinions.
“Nigerians will recall that in 2017, the Service made public its investigation and dismissal of five (5) officers implicated in the illegal release of the 661-pump action rifles from Apapa Port. The dismissed officers were immediately handed over for prosecution alongside the importer and agent. A prosecution that is ongoing at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi Lagos.
“In the same vein, the ongoing investigation will be holistic including looking at the weapon handling skills and actions that must be taken by the Service to possibly prevent future occurrence.
“We will continue to update the public details of every action taken in the handling of this unfortunate incident,” the statement read.
A video has emerged online showing the killing of a man allegedly by officials of the Nigerian Customs.
In the video, several commuters apparently from a commercial bus are seen arguing with Customs officials, with several other commuters from other vehicles watching.
Amid angry scenes, a passenger can be heard warning an official not to touch his phone, while some others were arguing with another official. As the argument continued, a voice is heard saying, ‘Shoot him’ and a gun went off immediately after.
The sound of the gunshot is believed caused some of the people at the scene to flee with some others repeatedly shouting in pidgin English that the Customs officials have killed someone.
While the video did not capture the officer who pulled the trigger, it showed one of them clutching a gun standing over the body of the man who had been shot.
After lifting the man’s hand, and seeing it fall limply to the ground, the official and his colleagues tried to get back into their cars, but the civilians at the scene rallied and prevented them from leaving.
Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service, DC Joseph Attah, confirmed that the incident occurred today, at the “Sagamu Interchange, along Ijebu Ode”.
He, however, said contrary to claims that the person killed was a passenger, the man who was shot was a friend of the officials.
According to the Customs, the incident occurred during an attempt to obstruct the lawful performance of duty by passengers of a commercial bus (a white Toyota Hiace) suspected to be carrying bales of used clothing.
Attah said that preliminary findings indicate that the deceased identified simply as Godwin was hit accidentally “during the skirmishes and struggle [by the passengers] to disarm the officer”.
Read the full statement below:
The attention of the Nigeria Customs Service has been drawn to a disturbing video going viral with conflicting narratives.
While it is painful and totally unnecessary to lose lives in anti-smuggling operations, today at Sagamu Interchange along Ijebu Ode, attempt to obstruct lawful performance of duty by passengers of a commercial bus (a white Toyota Hiace) suspected to be carrying bales of used clothing led to the death of a young man (Godwin) and serious injury of a Customs Officer ASC 1, Destiny Onebanho.
Contrary to some narrative, the young man was not a passenger of the bus but a good citizen who always comes to fetch water for Customs patrol men anytime they return to base.
Preliminary findings indicate that it was during the skirmishes and struggle to disarm the officer that the rifle discharged and the friend of the Customs (Godwin) who lost his life.
The Service is already in touch with the bereaved family.
Sadly, it should be noted that while attention shifted to the dead and the wounded, the passengers who filmed with incited commentary boarded their vehicle and left, leaving the wrong impression that it was one of them that was killed.
While the wounded officer is under intensive care at the hospital, the patrol team has been recalled to the office for further investigation.
DC Joseph Attah Public Relations Officer For: Comptroller-General of Customs
Operatives of the Nigerian Customs Service in Niger State has impounded a trailer carrying tramadol and other substances suspected to be illicit drugs worth about Forty-Four Million Naira (N44,000,000).
The trailer carrying the items was intercepted by the service’ special strike force along Minna-Suleja-Minna road.
They were concealed under sacks and other items.
Briefing journalists on the seizure and other seizures made, at the Nigerian customs service command headquarters in Minna, the national coordinator of the strike force, Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Abdullahi Kirawa said but for the eagle eye of men and officers in his team, the items would have made their way into the society, pointing out what dangers they could pose to the society.
He said one person has been arrested in connection to the items and that investigation is still ongoing to unravel other culprits.
Mr Kirawa called on members of the public to cooperate with the Nigerian customs service and to be vigilant to report any smuggling activities around them.
The Customs Service strike force coordinator also took members of the press around the warehouse of the showcase other items seized by the team, which include seven hundred and thirty-three bags of foreign rice, eighteen bales of used clothing, vehicles and used tires illegally being smuggled into the country through various routes.