The Federal Operations Unit (FOU) of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) yesterday swooped on the popular Sango market and confiscate about seven truckload of rice, and 43 kegs of vegetable oil allegedly smuggled into the country.
The action got the traders angry prompting them to immediately mobilised to barricade the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, leaving motorists trapped in the ensued confrontation between the officers of the Nigerian Police and the traders.
The customs estimated the value of duty payable on the items at N12.44million.
Eyewitnesses told THISDAY that about four people were injured in the fracas, which lasted for several hours and saw thousands of businesses grind to a halt.
However, the customs claimed that there was no attack and no casualty during the operation.
The aggrieved traders, who displayed placards contained several abusive inscriptions against the customs, alleged that the customs officers arrived the market in the early hours of yesterday and forcibly broke into shops and warehouses and took away about 15 truckloads of rice, including their personal belongings such as money and other items.
According to eyewitnesses, the customs officers came in five Toyota Hilux fully armed and masked with soldiers to carry out the operation.
The market leader, Alhaja W. Salako, said: “This is very unfair. The customs came into the market at mid-night and broke into our shops carting away about 15 trucks of rice and monies. We are not happy, and that is why you see people protesting. We will make sure that we resolve this issue with customs. The harassment is getting too much.”
Not even the intervention of the Area Commander of Police, Sango Command, Fayoade Adegoke, with heavy presence of policemen, and the presence of the Chairman, Ado Odo Ota Local Council Chairman, Prince Oladele Adeniji, could calm the aggrieved traders who parked tens of trucks to block the major expressway. Commuters were left stranded and forced to trek from Sango to the tollgate end of the state before they could get buses to their workplaces.
The spokesperson of the FOU of customs, Jerry Attah told THISDAY that the officers did not break into the shops, but only packed less than half of the bags of rice loaded outside in thousands.