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Customs checkpoint

Rice: Obi confirms Customs’ hatred on easterners, southerners travelling for yuletide

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Whereas findings along all routes leading to northern states from Lagos have shown average presence Customs checkpoints, former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi has accused the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) of subjecting Igbo and other southerners travelling to hardship by seizing rice meant for household consumption at its numerous checkpoints in the region.

Interactions with motorists plying between Sagamu interchange to Jebba in Niger State and Sagamu to Benin Bypass showed that whereas there are about five Customs checkpoint between Sagamu and Jebba, there are more than 15 Customs checkpoints between Sagamu and Benin Bypass.

The scenario therefore shows that Customs suspects and targets easterners and southerners more than northerners.

Efforts to seek further explanations from the Head of Federal Operations Unit, Ikeja, Deputy Comptroller Haruna failed at press time.

Obi had vented his anger while delivering a keynote address during the end-of-the-year meeting of Diamond Brothers Club, at Oriental Hotel, Lagos, revealing that many Igbos have visited him at his Onitsha home to complain about the hardship on people because of countless Customs checkpoints on roads, especially in the South-East.

He said to have first hand information about the complaint, he travelled by road from Lagos to Onitsha and described the situation as worrisome and counter-productive.

The former governor wondered if the roads in Nigeria have become wharfs or borders to warrant many Customs checkpoints.

According to him, “We know that Customs police our borders to, among other things, guard against smuggling of banned goods, but, if they do this effectively at the borders, as obtainable in other countries, there would not be need for Customs checkpoints all over the place.”

Obi said he observed over 10 checkpoints from Ore to Onitsha and added that, in this time of recession, what was more worrisome was that they stopped travellers and demanded Customs papers, clearance papers for vehicles, including those bought several years ago.

“Even families going home for Christmas were stopped and the rice they were given as gifts in their offices or bought in the open market were confiscated under the presence that they were foreign rice.”

Obi appealed to the Customs Comptroller General, Col. Hameed Ali (retd), “to look with interest” at what is happening and “to completely overhaul their mode of operations by targeting those importing banned goods at the borders and not innocent Nigerians trying painfully to eke a living.”


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