MIDNIGHT MARKET RAID: Hammed Raji (SAN) Leads Case as Ibadan Traders Seek ₦200m Damages From Customs - Penangle | News Portal in Nigeria
Sun. Jun 16th, 2024
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Traders at the Bodija and Ojaaba Markets, both in Ibadan, Oyo State Capital, have demanded for the sum of ₦200m as general damages for the midnight raid and closure of their shops by men of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

The traders had, on 1st of April, 2021, protested the midnight raid in which the Customs officers carted away several goods, including more than 250 bags of rice and a lump sum of money said to be over N4million.

This was as the Senate has to stop its deliberations on the matter because the traders have instituted a case on the raid by the Customs before an Abuja High Court.

The raid, reported to have been carried out by men of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) of the Service, was said to have been part of the clampdown on the smuggling of foreign rice into the country.

Less than one month after the Bodija Market raid, the anti-smuggling agency again raided Oja Oba market in Ibadan, where eight trucks loaded with bags of rice were confiscated.

The market traders, after the Ibadan protest against the raids, took their case to the National Assembly, seeking for the intervention of Senator Kola Balogun, representing Oyo South Senatorial District, in order to have their seized goods returned to them.

The Senate Committee on Ethics and Public Petitions condemned the midnight invasion of the two markets, urging the Comptroller-General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd), to returned the seized goods, the money and also reopen the shops locked up within two weeks.

The committee said the action of the NCS was a breach of the Customs Act and the Executive Order signed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007, which empowers the agency to only impound smuggled goods, 40 kilometers radius to the border.

Senator Balogun, said the Customs officers owed Nigerians an apology for the illegal raid, adding that: “The procedure is wrong. The Act says you can seal off the shops in the presence of the owners, not to go there in the night.

“If it happened in Katsina and the goods were returned, why can’t we do similar thing in the case of Bodija? What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.”

The NCS however did not comply with the order of the Senate and the traders eventually approached the court to seek legal redress for the alleged illegal invasion, raid and of their goods and money.

The matter came up before the Abuja High Court, on Wednesday, for mention but it was adjourned because lawyers were not allowed into the court premises because of the case involving the founder of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.

The traders, who are the plaintiffs, asked the court to grant them three principal claims: that the illegally seized goods be released to them;

That the defendants (NCS) should immediately unlock and reopen the plaintiffs’ shops placed under lock and key and that the sum of ₦200m be paid to them as general damages.

The second claim, that is, the reopening of the shops, has since been complied with by the Service, after the intervention of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Public Petitions.

Hameed Raji SAN is the lawyer to the rice traders, while Senator Francis Fadahunsi, a retired Assistant-General of Customs and Senator Kola Balogun are witnesses to the matter.

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