It’S a Northern conspiracy, Southerners
By Peter Bitrus
There is palpable apprehension over the manner by which the Nigerian government channels seized goods in southern Nigeria that are mostly owned by southern business men and distributes them to major parts of Northern Nigeria states of Plateau,Kano,Gombe,under the guise of COVID19 palliatives.
Eagle Eye Watch findings revealed that this trend has been on even before the emergence of Covid 19 in Nigeria.
Our reporter gathered that in most major markets in Jos, capital of Plateau State, North-Central Nigeria there is an avallange of fairly used goods in the hands, shops of Northerners, who on investigation revealed that they were handed over to them from Lagos while others claimed they bought them from the main sources of purchased.
Speaking on this development a major importer of fairly used goods in Nigeria, Chief Boniface Okafor and Mr Taiye Olagungu both alleged that these goods were seized by the men of Nigeria Custom Service in the south because of the complicity of some Northern custom chiefs that oversees these goods they distributes them to their cronies and kinsmen in major parts of the north.
“In their words: these development is very ugly considering the fact that the Buhari led administration prides itself as one that fights corruption. We all can see the complicity of some corrupt officers of the Nigerian Custom Service that have compromised their integrity”.
Adding that it’s a conspiracy by the north to develop their region at all cost, they stressed.
This medium reports that the NCS have received several knocks in the past for the complicity of some of their officers.
Last September on a routine checks to several car shops to identify imported cars that were not duly cleared into the country, some NCS officers of the Plateau State Command were alleged to have collected bribe from some car dealers in Bauchi and Plateau States.
When this Medium tried to get the response of the NCS,Plataeu State Command they decline our formal request after several entreaties.
It would be recalled that the Nigeria Customs Service distributed N3.2 billion worth of food items last April.
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) decision to distribute relief materials valued at N3.2 billion to Nigerians in a bid to cushion the negative economic effects of the lockdown in the country due to Covid-19.
The approval to distribute the materials was given by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd), according to a statement that was released by the NCS’ Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah.
The items, according to Attah, included 46,000 metric tons of (158 trailers), 30 trucks of vegetable oil (25l) 36,495keg, one truck of Palm oil 3,428 kegs, and 54 trucks of tomatoes paste 136,705 cartons. Other items include Spaghetti/Noodles (2,951 cartons and 1,253 packets), one truck of wrappers (Ankara) comprised of 828 bales, and one truck of lace fabric comprised of 2,300 rolls.
Reasons for the decision: Attah explained that the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic had elicited various reactions from Nigerians. According to him, many people advised the Service to share the seized items at its disposal to help Nigerians during this period.
Some people also insinuated that the Nigerian Customs Service had shared the seized items among themselves. However, this notion is false. And that is one of the reasons the approval was given to share the items. According to Attah, the approval was the Service’s way of contributing its quota to the Federal Government’s ongoing efforts to provide relief for Nigerians during this difficult time. He said:
“Reacting to pains associated with the effects of the lockdown in some parts of the country, some Nigerians have taken to the social media to call on Nigeria Customs Service to share seized rice and other edible items to members of the public.
“While some of these calls appear well intended, others had attempted to create the impression that Customs Officers have the liberty to use seized items as they deem fit. Some even mischievously impugned that the items may have already been shared to cronies. Nothing can be further from the truth. “It is, therefore, necessary to explain that in line with the provision of section 167(2) of CEMA CAP C45 LFN 2004, seized items upon condemnation and forfeiture to the Federal Government by a competent court of jurisdiction are kept in government warehouses pending Government directive on its disposal.”