The Senate has mandated its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate the alleged invasion of rice traders shops at Bodija market in Ibadan, Oyo state capital by men of the Nigerian Customs that resulted in the carting away of goods worth N85 million.
The upper chamber at Tuesday plenary also confirmed the nomination of Muhammad Dattijo Usman as a Federal Commissioner of the National Population Commission (NPC).
The probe came on the heels of a petition from the Ibadan Foodstuff Sellers Association addressed to the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan and routed through Senator Kola Balogun representing Oyo South Senatorial District.
According to the lawmaker, 3,046 bags of rice worth N79,196,000; 25kg vegetable oil numbering 14; cash of N4,862,000; and 15kg bags of Gari were carted away by men of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) during a forceful invasion of shops in the absence of the traders.
The traders in the petition are demanding that the Nigeria Customs should be warned against the use of the crude and cruel method of infringing on traders’ properties and products.
They said the action of the Customs was seriously infringing on their rights to trade in legitimate items within the country as the midnight invasion violated all democratic principles.
The petition read in part, “the above named association write to report the unfortunate night invasion of the Bodija International Market, Ibadan and the forceful breakage of the Rice traders’ shops by men of the Nigerian Customs, Ikeja Unit, Lagos on 31st March through 1st April, 2021.
“Our shops and warehouses were forcefully opened in our absence and the following items were carted away: 3,046 bags of Rice at N26,000 per bag – N79,196,000; 14 (Nos) 25kg Vegetable Oil; Cash of N4,862,000.00; and One (Nos) 15kg Bag of Garri. It is pertinent to report to you, Sir, that five shops still remain under special white padlock, the same that were put on the forcefully broke ones.
“The Ibadan Customs Unit has advised us not to unlock the locked shops for reasons unknown to us and owners of the shops have been rendered helpless. They cannot access their shops and neither can they trade in anything. Their families have been suffering. We seek the intervention of your highly esteemed office for the immediate return of all the items and cash carted away from from our shops and warehouses. We also seek for the Red Chamber’s investigation into the reasons behind the forceful raid on our shops.”
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the petition to the Senator Ayo Akinyelure-led Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition for investigation.
The Senate also confirmed the nomination of Muhammad Dattijo Usman as a Federal Commissioner of the National Population Commission.
Usman’s confirmation followed the consideration of a report by the Senate Committee on National Identity and National Population.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Saidu Alkali, while presenting the report, said the nominee possesses the requisite qualifications, integrity, leadership qualities and comportment to discharge his responsibilities.
According to him, the appointment of the nominee satisfies the requirements of Section 154(1) of the Constitution of the a Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
Usman, who was the Registrar of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, between 2007 and 2012, is a member of the African Council on Communication Education.