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Customs chides CDHR for joining smugglers’ protest

The Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A has chided the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Lagos State branch for joining in protest aimed at releasing two notorious smugglers, Mr Oyedeji Rashidi and Mr Shuaib Sheyi, unconditionally.

The FOU Zone A, in a statement signed on Wednesday by its Spokesman, Jerry Attah accused the CDHR of failing to verify its claims before embarking on the struggle to free the two notorious smugglers.

According to the statement, “the FOU, Zone A has arraigned two notorious smugglers, Mr Oyedeji Rashidi and Mr Shuaib Sheyi before Chief Magistrate Y.A. Aje-Afunwa of the Magistrates’ Court, Ikeja, Lagos State, on Tuesday, 18th of October, 2016, on a nine-count charge of smuggling prohibited items.

“The two suspects have been remanded in Ikoyi Prison awaiting trial as the case was adjourned to February 15, 2017. 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.

“However, when the smugglers gang leaders learnt that our Unit was charging the suspect, Oyedeji Rashidi to Court on the 18th of October 2016, they mobilised with the CDHR, Lagos State branch to stage an unruly protest to the Federal Operations Unit Zone A Ikeja demanding the unconditional release of the suspect in our custody.

“The Controller, Federal Operations Unit Zone A, Comptroller Umar Mohammed Dahiru, commended the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Fatai Owoseni, for his prompt deployment of his men to stop what would have caused serious tensions and casualties.

“The Controller advised the CDHR 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.

“He noted that the economic saboteurs are desperate to smuggle into the country over 600 metric tonnes of rice rotting away in warehouses located across Nigeria’s borders. He restated the determination of his operatives to frustrate their plans and bring them to book accordingly.”

It will be recalled that on Thursday, 13 of October, 2016, Customs 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 the Customs operatives, who were armed with various dangerous weapons such as guns, cutlasses, broken bottles, sticks, stones, among others, which resulted to a shoot-out between our men and the smugglers.