Merchants in Aba, Abia State, involved in the importation of foreign products have raised their voices against the alleged harassment, intimidation, and exploitation they face from the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) officials.
The traders claim that they are subjected to systemic targeting resulting in financial losses, making their livelihoods increasingly difficult. They have issued a plea to the state government to intervene and curb these practices by the Customs officials.
The issue was brought up during Governor Alex Otti’s representative, Commissioner for Trade, Commerce, and Industry, Dr. Chimezie Ukaegbu’s visit to the Eziukwu market. The event also marked the inauguration of the market’s grand patrons, zonal leaders, and other officials responsible for the welfare of the traders and visitors.
The traders expressed their concerns about the negative effects of regular Customs’ raids on their businesses across Aba’s major markets. They warned that they could not sustain their businesses under these alleged circumstances.
Speaking on behalf of the traders, Alphonsus Udeigbo, the chairman of the market, expressed their bafflement over why the Customs officials treat the markets as border posts. He emphasized that the traders are committed to ending such alleged unprofessional and exploitative behaviors.
“Our grievance is not against Customs performing their duties. However, we find it unacceptable for them to abandon their posts at the borders and allegedly harass and exploit traders in the city markets. Smugglers operate near the border areas, and it’s illogical to disrupt business activities inside the cities,” Udeigbo stated.
In response, the commissioner reassured the traders of the state government’s commitment, under the Otti administration, to foster a favorable business environment across the state.
SOURCE: The Sun News