Nigeria Customs out to destroy Igbo businesses – Ohanaeze
By Steve Oko
The youths wing of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC) has raised alarm over what it termed “series of wanton and unabated extortion of Igbo traders and businessmen in the country, especially in Lagos State by corrupt officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).”
OYC National President, Comrade Igboayaka. O. Igboayaka who said he was “embittered by the high rate of swindling and extortion of Igbo businessmen doing their legitimate businesses in the country”, OYC asked President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to investigate the matter.
The OYC President in a press release by his Media Assistant, Chukwuemeka Chimerue, called for “thorough probe of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali and the activities of other officials of the NCS over their bid to strangulate Igbo businesses in the country.”
The release read in part : “We are deeply saddened at the rate of corruption that has eaten deep into the fabric of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, whose officials no longer hide their inclination and pleasure in extorting money from Igbo traders doing legitimate businesses in Nigeria.
“Verified complaints reaching the desk of OYC has confirmed that customs officials has continued to request undue and/or illegal ‘customs duties and levies’ from Igbo importers as a condition to clear their goods. They also stop Igbo traders on the roads to extort from them. They employ the use of coercion, threats, closure of shops and seizure of goods worth billions of naira to unlawfully obtain money from their victims.
“Recently, some of the officials from the custom office in Ikeja, without court order, stormed Igbo shops at Maryland, Coscharis, Ikorodu and other areas in Lagos and carted away their goods and locked their shops over products that have already been cleared by the same custom officials when it entered Nigerian borders. The impression in the country now is that the Igbo people are being witch-hunted by the customs on a daily basis because they are Igbo.
“We have not only been inundated by series of reports, but have also witnessed where custom personnel who should be manning the borders left their duty post to mount road blocks on the highways in order to extort money from Igbo traders plying the highways. In this regard, huge sums of money are usually extorted from them otherwise their goods which has already been cleared are confiscated by these dubious, corrupt custom officers.”
OYC expressed dissatisfaction and anger over “the re-occurence of this dubious act by corrupt Nigerian custom officials who seem to derive enormous pleasure harassing and extorting Igbo businessmen, thereby causing the dwindling effect on their businesses.”
The release further read :”OYC is particularly piqued that if the so-called custom officials are carrying out their duties at the borders as it should be done, there was no need mounting road blocks or storming shops to confiscate items from traders.
“Of particular note, is that some of the actions and policies of the Customs were targeted to harm the success of Igbo-owned businesses and this will, henceforth, not be accepted. The harassment of Igbo traders in Lagos must stop. Igbo traders must be allowed to go about their legitimate businesses in Lagos and other sections of the country without undue harassment from the Nigerian custom officials.
“It is so sad and unfortunate that in a country where the hardworking and industrious youths should be promoted and empowered to engage in legitimate businesses to strengthen the economy, the Nigerian government through its officials would rather impose stiff sanctions and illegal levies ranging from thousands to millions of naira against its citizens striving to survive the hard economy. This is contributing in denting the image of the country and must be nipped to the bud.
“Custom operatives should concentrate at the borders and not inside the cities, chasing goods and materials that have already passed the borders which show leakage at the borders. Once the goods have passed the borders and enter the cities, checking them becomes the duty of the police and no longer the functions of the Customs officials. The continuous drama of harassing innocent Igbo traders in the guise of checking the contents of their containers or illegal seizure of their goods which has been cleared at the borders must stop.
“We, therefore, call on the National Assembly, the Inspector General of Police and President Buhari to put heads together and see to it that the Custom Service executes their duties in a professional manner devoid of corruption, extortion and other anomalies unbecoming of a credible, genuine and transparent government agency.”Steve Oko, Publisher/C.E.O, WaWa News Global. For more information on advert placement and news coverage, contact us on: 08038725600, or via email firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com Always read WaWa News Global - Your most dependable online news platform for the latest breaking news in Nigeria.