Traders have raised alarm prior to the invasion of the Better Life section of the Ikotun Market, men of the Nigeria Customs Service.
As they claimed that the law enforcement officers carted away local rice, including the money they kept in their shops, the agency said only foreign rice smuggled into the state were taken away.
A trader, Wasiu Ayinde whom was a victim said;
“I only sell local rice. I have a machine that I use for the production of local rice in Minna, Niger State. Since the Federal Government said we should not sell foreign rice again, I stopped selling and focused on local rice.
“I was called around 1am that customs officials were in the market and that they were burgling shops, but I didn’t pay attention since I was not selling contraband. Another call came in around 2am that all my goods had been taken away. I got up immediately, mounted my motorcycle and went to the market.
“On getting to the market, I saw that they had packed all the 341 bags of rice in my shop, so I started screaming at the officials that I was a local rice dealer. They started shooting and did not mind if I was hit. My wife and I had to run for our lives; we got injured in the process.
The Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit, Ikeja, Theophilus Duniya, confirmed the operation in which he said;
“I want you to let members of the public know that our laws enable officers to carry out operations upon reasonable suspicion. The law empowers customs to move into any structure or warehouse without a search warrant. If the shop owners have genuine allegations as to the loss of money and the seizure of local rice, they can come forward to make a complaint and it will be looked into.”