Senate to Probe Alleged Killings at Border Posts By Customs

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Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The Senate has mandated its Committee on Customs and Tariff to investigate alleged extra-judicial killings at the nation’s borders by operatives of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).

This was coming as it charged security agencies to intervene in the increasing rate of kidnappings in the riverine areas of Ogun State, especially by establishing a Naval Base in Makun-Omi to address the problem.

These were sequel to the adoption of two different motions moved at plenary by Senators Tolulope Odebiyi and Olalekan Mustapha on the subject matters.

Odebiyi in his motion on “the need to condemn the incessant excesses and the recent extra-judicial killings of people by men of the Nigerian Customs Service in Idiroko/Ipokia state constituency,” stressed the need for the upper legislative chamber to intervene in the ugly incident.
According to him, since the closure of the country’s land borders, men of NCS had been conducting themselves in a very reckless and unruly manner along the Idiroko axis.

He added that it was disturbing that “precisely, on October 7, while we were on break, men of the NCS were alleged to have shot and killed a student including subjecting many students to various degrees of injury.”

The Senator explained that “the people of Idiroko state constituency are daily being harassed and treated with disdain by men of the Nigerian Customs Service.

“While many of the actions and excesses by the NCS operatives including the recent killings were not only breaches but were done against the state, sadly there are yet to be any report of any of the officers involved or reprimanded.”

Supporting the motion, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe said “we have debated on this floor the reason for the closure of the border and its importance,” but “it is very unfortunate and sad that lives of Nigerians are lost as a result of their actions. It is also sad that those men are not keeping to the code of their various services.”
Also presenting his motion via Orders 42 and 52, Mustapha, said it’s imperative for security agencies to intervene in the increasing rate of kidnappings in the riverine areas of Ogun West senatorial district so as to secure the water ways.

He particularly urged the Nigerian Navy to establish a naval base in Makun-Omi “because of the strategic location between Ondo and Lagos states and its accessibility to both road and water.”

In his remarks, Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, hinted that he had been holding regular meetings with heads of security agencies, the Minister of Communications and others on the best way to improve the security situation in the country.

“I have said it here that no amount of resources would be too much for combating insecurity, because we need to secure our people. We need to secure this country. It would remain a pipe dream if we continue to ask people to come to Nigeria to invest actually, if those inside the country could not invest properly because of the dicey security situation.

“This is something we have to do together with the executive arm of government and in fact I was looking for something out of the ordinary for more funding in order to be able to deal with this challenge at this moment.

“So, we have to go out of our way to look for resources outside national annual budget. If we can give say N600 or N700 billion to this urgent course, nothing stops us to look for the same or more money in addressing the security situation in the country,” he said.

Lawan, who emphasised the need to find a way to track the menace, disclosed that a national emergency centre with specific numbers would have been launched two weeks ago to further arrest the situation.

Meanwhile, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Babajide Omoworare, yesterday declared that the relationship between his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is very cordial.

Omoworare explained that the kind of relationship between the President and Vice President which began on a cordial note in 2015 still remains very cordial.

The SSA explained that contrary to belief in some quarters Buhari did not undermine the Office of the Vice President, by travelling without transmitting a letter that would allow him to act to the National Assembly.

Omoworare, who spoke with newsmen in Abuja, insisted that the President was free to perform his functions from anywhere in the world.

“Contrary to the claims by some individuals and groups, the President has not in any way undermined or relegated the Office of the Vice President. He has no reason to do so.

“I don’t think there is any way or manner that the Office of the Vice President has been relegated. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can work from anywhere he is in the world,” he said.

He added that the only case where people could raise issues was when a President is ill and was unable to communicate his absence to the National Assembly.

“The only celebrated case was that of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who was ill and could not transmit any letter to the National Assembly. The National Assembly then had to work round the situation by ensuring that the executive powers went to the Vice President,” he recalled.

The current situation, he said, was quiet different from the Yar’Adua case as Buhari had not done anything wrong by not transferring executive powers to his deputy before embarking on his recent foreign trips.