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Thursday, 22 February 2018

Rochas Okorocha Decries Extortion Of Igbo Traders By Customs Officials

The Governor of Imo State, Rochas Owelle Okorocha has in a meeting with Comptroller of Customs, Federal Operations, Zone C, Mr. Azarema Abubakar called out the extortion of Igbo traders who are the main importers in the country by Customs Officials at the various ports.


Okorocha also chastised the Customs Service for mounting Road Blocks in the country stating that if the Customs Officials in the various ports had carried out the their work very well, there'd be no need for road blocks since illegal items will not be able to enter the country.



Rochas advocated for a summit between the Igbo traders and Customs Officials to Iron out differences and correct the impressions of some in various quarters that the Igbos are being witch-hunted for their success in businesses.

“Custom operatives should concentrate at the borders and not inside the cities, chasing goods and materials that have passed the borders which show leakage at the borders. Once the goods have passed the borders and enter the cities, checking them becomes the duty of the police and no more the functions of the Customs officials.

“Custom officials have no business mounting road blocks inside the cities. Even the issue of under-payment should not be the responsibility of the Customs. Customs should also assist the Nigeria Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to fight illicit drugs, because the NDLEA does not have the needed personnel and resources to fight illicit drugs.

Rochas stated “I request that Customs’ authorities come down to Imo State or anywhere in the South-East and talk to the Igbo traders because 90 percent of the importers are Igbos, come and talk to them and explain to them why the customs take the actions or do some of the things they do that do not go down well with the importers. Our people misunderstand some of these customs actions. The impression in the country now is that the Igbo people are being witch-hunted by the customs on a daily basis because they are Igbo. While that may not be true, there is need to give them proper explanation to some of these actions.”

The governor added: “Due to this lack of communication, some corrupt customs officials take advantage of it and extort money from innocent importers. I will be ready to discuss with other governors on this summit. This will help to smoothen the relationship between customs and Igbo importers because for now, the relationship is sour and not good for our national unity.”

He however gave commendation to the Customs for intercepting and seizing illegal ammunitions such as AK-47s which could have led to the loss of hundreds of lives if they had fallen into the wrong hands. He also advocated for the prosecution of the owners of the containers in which these illegal arms were found.

READ ALSO:GRAPHIC: DANA AIRCRASH IN PORT-HARCOURT

What do you think about Governor Rochas's recent outspokenness regarding these pertinent issues? Some have suggested that he has 2019 in mind, hence his condemnation of these things? Share your comments in the comments section and let us know your take on the alleged extortion of Igbo traders by Customs Officers.
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