Nigerian Senator Shuaibu Afolabi Salisu of Ogun Central, in an impassioned speech at the National Assembly, expressed grave concern over the rampant abuses and livelihood-threatening activities carried out by the Nigeria Customs Service in Ogun State. Senator Afolabi shed light on the alarming incidents of customs brutality, extortion, and unwarranted raids, especially on traders selling rice, which have caused significant losses in the region.
Ogun Central, known as part of the “gateway state,” shares borders with the Benin Republic, making it a key location for customs operations. However, Senator Afolabi highlighted that the actions of some customs officials have been severely disproportionate and detrimental to innocent citizens.
In his speech, the Senator cited the appalling practices that traders in Abeokuta, the state capital, endure. Many of them have woken up to discover their shops looted and ransacked under the guise of customs officials searching for smuggled rice. These incidents have disrupted their businesses and left them in financial distress.
Even further from the border towns in Ogun East, the situation remains grim. Customs officials have been reported to move from the border towns to cities like Sagamu and Ijebu Ode, where they allegedly resort to violence, resulting in loss of life and fear among the population.
During his time as Chief of Staff to the Governor of Ogun State, Senator Afolabi revealed that efforts were made to address the issue by setting up a committee. Traders attested to the customs officers being settled with bribes all the way from the border to the state capital. The irony of these same officials then raiding their shops in the early hours, ostensibly searching for contraband rice, has raised serious concerns about their motives and integrity.
Condemning the unjust actions and emphasizing the need for immediate action, Senator Afolabi urged the Senate to take decisive steps in addressing the plight of affected citizens in Ogun State. He proposed the formation of an ad hoc committee to comprehensively investigate the matter and come up with lasting solutions.
The Senator’s speech resonated with fellow lawmakers and the Nigerian public, prompting calls for accountability and measures to protect the lives and livelihoods of citizens across the country, irrespective of their proximity to international borders.