By Francis Sardauna
The residents of Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State have alleged that the worsening cases of extortion by men and officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) had killed their businesses,
The residents, under the auspices of Jibia Youth Vanguard Forum (JYVF), alleged that the NCS’ officers mount road blocks on highways to extort traders and motorists.
THISDAY investigation revealed that Jibia, which is a border town between Nigeria and Niger Republic, is being used by smugglers to ferry in bags of foreign rice, bales of second-hand clothing and other contrabands.
The Chairman of the JYVF, Mr. Nasir Almustapha Danye, told journalists yesterday that customs officers along Katsina-Jibia Road regularly divert trucks conveying goods to their office on frivolous accusation of engaging in illicit export.
Danye alleged that the prevailing extortion by customs officers and other security personnel is detrimental to trade facilitation and ease of doing business and but also cripples the economy and impacts negatively on residents of the area.
He explained that the security personnel were busy extorting money from legitimate businessmen and women rather than enforcing strict adherence to border closure and addressing the wave of smuggling activities that have been bedeviling the border town.
He said: “There are more than 40 checkpoints between Jibia to Katsina being man by officers of the NCS, the Nigeria Police, the Nigeria Immigration Service and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps. But they are doing nothing but extortion.
“If you buy a truckload of maize from Katsina, you will spend more than N100,000 settling security personnel on the road before you get to Jibia town. The same thing with rice, flour and cement and even drugs that are meant to treat patients.
“Because of their heinous activities, a bag of cement in Katsina is N2,600 but here in Jibia town is being sold at N3,200, while a measure of maize is N400 in Mani but in Jibia is N520. Life has become unbearable for us in Jibia.
“We have reported this issue to all the authorities concerned but nothing has been done rather the situation is deteriorating day by day.”
However, when contacted, the Public Relations Officer of Katsina Customs Area Command, Mr. Isah Dababa, feigned ignorance of the allegations, saying he will investigate the matter.