Customs, DSS, Soldiers raid Itam market in Uyo – BOT Chairman implicates Customs in contraband trade

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Itam market in Uyo was raided by a joint force of security officials over the weekend seizing goods, mostly contraband worth N160m.

Mr. Godwin Ebong, Itam Market Board of Trustee (BOT) Chairman on Wednesday, informed reporters about the incidence and also stated that cash was seized in the raid.

The incident according to Mr. Ebong’s narration occurred on Friday night around 11 pm. He said,

“one of the night guards called my line that some armed robbers were in the market, broke one of the gates with their guns. When the night guards approached them, they pointed torch light on them and said “we are not for you” and invaded the market.

“They said they were on national assignment and we understood they packed goods into more than 10 vehicles. We discovered the following morning that more than 40 shops were broken into while goods including foreign rice, beans, groundnut oil, cash and other articles were taken away.

Mr Ebong said the market has written to the National Security Adviser, NSA, demanding return of the seized goods under a seven-day ultimatum failure to which they will shut the market and go on a peaceful protest.

“Although I am against traders selling foreign rice but the question we have been asking is how does the foreign rice get into Akwa Ibom, where there no customs when these bags of rice were brought into Akwa Ibom?

The BOT Chairman also disclosed that most of the “traders do not have bank accounts because they collect goods on credit and pay back the following morning. So, it is difficult for them to be carrying cash about when they know they will settle their creditors the next day.”

When contacted, Operations Comptroller of Customs in Uyo, Tunku Lokoja, disclosed that the operations at the market were carried out by the presidency under the office of National Security Adviser at Aso Rock in Abuja.

“That operation was carried out at the instance of National Security Adviser and we are not under them and I just heard it the way I’m hearing from you. So, whatever they took from the operations, you have to contact Calabar, I don’t have any information on that.

“The team was operations involving Nigeria Customs, Army, Immigration, DSS and the police. I don’t know whatever they took from there. As I said you have to contact Calabar for information on it.”

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