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Customs suspends 23 officers over alleged extortion, rape



TWENTY-THREE senior officers of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) have been suspended over their alleged involvement in the extortion of $13,000, rape and other offences.

   The NCS disclosed Monday that 12 of them were suspended from service pending the outcome of investigations while 11 others were presently being investigated by panels set up by the NCS Comptroller General, Dikko Inde Abdullahi.

   Among the suspended are three Assistant Superintendents of Customs, who were implicated in the alleged case of extortion at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja. The NCS said the officers, who were attached to the currency declaration desk at the airport, got into trouble for extorting the sum of $13,000 during the outward clearance of a passenger on Emirates Airline flight.

   Two others, also Assistant Superintendents serving in Seme Command, were also suspended for an alleged rape, an offence said to have been committed in Badagry, Lagos. Abdullahi, in a statement by the NCS Public Relations Officer, Wale Adeniyi, regretted the involvement of the young officers recently recruited into the service in various illegal acts, which he described as worrisome.

   He warned that the service would not tolerate such officers, noting that the NCS machinery for investigations would be strengthened to punish erring officers. Mid-level management officers serving in the ports were also affected in the recent action, as five Assistant Comptrollers of Customs at Tin Can Island Port were among those suspended for improper release of seizures, the agency stated.

   Others, including a Deputy Comptroller serving at Apapa Port, have appeared at the investigative panel for negligence and improper examination of containers. The remaining six appeared before the same panel for such offences as hacking of passwords, falsification of academic certificates, negligence and general indiscipline, among others.

   According to the CG, the service will go after officers operating illegal checkpoints, as he also acknowledged receipt of persistent complaints on some routes, particularly around Kogi, Ondo and Edo states.

   He assured motorists that special units of his office would conduct special surveillance operations to apprehend the culprits, noting that officers operating such illegal checkpoints would be severely punished.

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