Customs charges two to court for rice smuggling

The Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service has charged two suspected smugglers, Oyedeji Rashidi and Shuaib Sheyi before Chief Magistrate Y.A. Aje-Afunwa of the Magistrate Court, Ikeja, on a 9 counts charge bordering on smuggling of prohibited items.

A statement made available to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY by the unit spokesman, Jerry Attah yesterday said the two suspects were charged to court on Tuesday and have been remanded in Ikoyi Prison awaiting trial as the case was adjourned to February 15, 2017.

“You will recall that on Thursday 13th October 2016, our field operatives while on a tip off trailed some smugglers to Alakuko /Kola Junction area of Agege Lagos and intercepted two vehicles laden with smuggled rice. However while taking the seized goods to the office, one of the suspects Oyedeyi Rashidi incited a mob attack against our operatives who were armed with various dangerous weapons such as guns, cutlasses, broken bottle, sticks, stones among others, which resulted to a shootout between our men and the smugglers.

“While some of these hoodlums confronted our operatives, others rescued one of the arrested vehicles loaded with smuggled rice. Only the intervention of our reinforcement saved one of the vehicles, and ensured the arrest of a suspect.  The professional conduct of our operatives prevented a complete breakdown of law and order or serious fatalities in a densely populated area.

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“For the avoidance of doubt, the fact that a smuggler has evaded scrutiny either by following unapproved route or compromising any operatives does not guarantee that the smuggled item will not be seized anywhere it is found by patrol officers whose duty is to ensure compliance,” the statement said.

According to the statement, when the smugglers’ gang leader got to know that the Unit was charging the suspect (Oyedeji Rashidi) to Court on 18th October 2016, they mobilized with the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Lagos State Branch to stage an unruly protest at the unit’s headquarters in Ikeja demanding the unconditional release of the suspect in custody.

Attah said it is amazing that such credible Human right body would allow themselves to be used by smugglers who mean no good for the country. The Controller of the Unit, Comptroller Umar Mohammed commended the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni for his prompt deployment of his men to stop what he said would have caused serious tensions and casualties.

He said the spirit of inter-agency relationship among security agencies cannot be over emphasized. He said that the economic saboteurs are desperate to smuggle into the country over 600 metric tonnes of rice rotting away in warehouses located across the borders.

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He restated the determination of his operatives to frustrate their plans and bring them to book accordingly. The Controller advised the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights to always verify their claims before embarking on any struggle to enhance their credibility and integrity. He noted that taking sides with suspected smugglers is not within their mandate.

Badejogbin David who led the legal team of the Nigeria Customs Service prayed that the court expedite the legal proceedings to serve as deterrent to others.

 

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