By Stanley Nwanosike
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has threatened to shut down Customs Command in Ikeja, Lagos if food stuffs meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are not released.
“NANS will be considering occupying the customs office on Monday, Nov. 26, to demand justice for our Diaspora Zone,’’ NANS National Public Relations Officer, Mr Bestman Okereafor, said in a statement on Saturday.
Okereafor noted that the foodstuff meant for the IDPs were purchased from Iddo Rice Market in Lagos State.
“And not from outside Nigeria with receipt to the effect, contrary to what should have constituted an act of smuggling which is against the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as stipulated under section 147, 148 and 158 of the Customs Excise Management Act, Cap C4 LFN, 2004,” he said.
Okereafor further explained that the seized items were bought by the leadership of NANS, Sierra Leone Chapter, on Oct. 27 but were confiscated by men of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ Command, Ikeja, Lagos.
“The foodstuff were bought for the purpose of donating them to IDPs camps in Maiduguri, Ogoja and Bakassi as our little way of complimenting the efforts of Federal Government, NGOs and other well-meaning Nigerians in caring for our brothers and sisters that are victims of insurgency and other internal crisis.
“Frantic efforts have been made and letter of appeal for the release written to the Comptroller in-charge of the Zonal command; follow up has been done as well and they are yet to grant our request by releasing these items so that we can use them for the intended purpose.
“As at yesterday, they have established that they seized the items on the stated date, in the process, it was discovered that the operation team that arrested the items offloaded the items, released the vehicle conveying the items to the driver.
“While the operation team under the command had mixed our items with a golf car that was arrested at Ibadan Toll-Gate with contraband so as to make it look like a smuggled goods.
“At the discovery of this, the Zonal Co-ordinator of customs told us that they will only give us a document to show that they seized the items but they cannot release them,’’ he said..
According to him, the question now is, if rice and vegetable oil that were bought from a Nigeria market can be seized by customs as contraband, how did they enter into Nigeria and are being displayed for sale openly at Iddo Market, Lagos.