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Group accuses customs officers of harassment, extortion


Officials of the Shoe Dealers Association (SDA), Terminus Branch, Jos, have accused officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) of harassment and extortion, while carrying out their legal business.

Chairman of the association, Hamza Sadiq Adam, who said he sustained injuries from the last onslaught by the customs men, wondered why the officers could treat them like that when they buy goods within the country.Adam called on the Federal Government, Inspector General of Police, Comptroller-General of Customs and the National Assembly to help stop the harassment.

“Customs men have been stopping us on the road, as we return from Lagos to Jos. We always buy shoes, kitchen utensils, socks, handkerchiefs, belts and other things from Lagos. We buy our market at Oluwole Market on Lagos Island, which is a recognised market.

“Anytime we go to market, we always go in a convoy of seven to 10 vehicles. In January last year, customs officials attacked one of my members and shot him. I am even one of the victims. I am still struggling now to recover from the injury I sustained.

“We petitioned the Comptroller-General, the Senate through our lawyer and nothing has happened up till now. All our complaints fell on deaf ears. “The goods we buy are not illegal goods. We buy in bulk from Lagos factories, which are duly registered. They are not contrabands. And so, we don’t know our offence,” he said.He narrated how the customs officers showed him guns, saying that after beating him mercilessly, they could shoot him and that nothing would happen, adding: “This is not good for the country’s image.

“The Federal Government should take note of this and do something about it because it is denting the image of Nigeria.”Also speaking, Organising Secretary of the association, Umar Sabo Umar and Secretary, Babangida Musa, noted that they were law-abiding citizens who need security and Federal Government’s intervention on the matter.

But a customs officer, who asked not to be mentioned at Customs House in Dogon Karge, Jos said the story was being exaggerated, adding however, that officers of the service actually over-stepped their bounds by threatening to shoot the traders and extorting them. He, however, lamented that the distance to Jos was too much for them to intervene urgently, urging them to take the matter to the public domain as they had done.

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