Merchants at Itam market in Uyo metropolis have expressed displeasure over an alleged vandalization of their stalls and the carting away of their items and money valued about N163m by the officers of Nigerian customs final weekend.
In addition they threatened to shut down the market and embark on a protest if the difficulty isn’t investigated and their items returned.
The Chairman Board of Trustee (BOT) of Itam Market and Particular Assistant to the Chairman of Itu Native Authorities Space, Mr. Godwin Ebong, instructed journalists on Wednesday that customized officers accompanied by troopers and DSS operatives invaded the market final Friday at about 11pm when the merchants have left, ransacked all retailers carried all luggage of contraband rice, beans, some articles in addition to money.
He narrated, “It was on Friday evening about 11 pm, one of many evening guards known as my line that some armed robbers have been available in the market. They stated “robbers” broke one of many gates with their weapons. When the evening guards approached them, they pointed torch mild on them and stated “we’re not for you” and invaded the market.
“They stated they have been on nationwide task and we understood they packed items into greater than 10 autos. We found the next morning that greater than 40 retailers have been damaged into whereas items together with international rice, beans, groundnut oil, money and different articles have been taken away.
“Now we have, due to this fact, written to the Nationwide Safety Adviser, NSA, and given the Federal Authorities a seven-day ultimatum to return the products and cash else we are going to shut down the market and go on a peaceable protest to safety businesses and the federal government home of Akwa Ibom.
“Though I’m in opposition to merchants promoting international rice however the query we’ve been asking is how does the international rice get into Akwa Ibom, the place there no customs when these luggage of rice have been introduced into Akwa Ibom? We must also know that these merchants are concerned with revenue and when individuals make calls for for such items, they go to any extent to get it for patrons.”
On why merchants preserve money available in the market, Ebong defined that, “most of our merchants wouldn’t have checking account as a result of they accumulate items on credit score and pay again the next morning. So, it’s troublesome for them to be carrying money about after they know they are going to settle their collectors the subsequent day.”
However Nigeria Customized officers in Uyo have stated that the operations on the market have been carried out by the presidency underneath the workplace of Nationwide Safety Adviser at Aso Rock in Abuja.
The Operations Comptroller of Customs in Uyo, Tunku Lokoja, stated any rationalization on the operations can be performed by their workplace in Calabar.
“That operation was carried out on the occasion of Nationwide Safety Adviser and we’re not underneath them and I simply heard it the way in which I’m listening to from you. So, no matter they took from the operations, it’s important to contact Calabar, I don’t have any data on that.
“The group was operations involving Nigeria Customs, Military, Immigration, DSS and the police. I don’t know no matter they took from there. As I stated it’s important to contact Calabar for data on it.”
Reacting to the raid, the Particular Assistant to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Matket, Commerce and Funding, Mr. Idorenyin Raphael, condemned the method adopted by the safety operatives, which he stated created a questionable impression of the train.
Raphael who decried the unwarranted destruction of market stalls and gates additionally queried the extension of the raid to provision shops, vandalization of beans, groundnut oil and money, whereas homeowners of such retailers have been of their properties sleeping.
“They got here in round 11.30pm and left at 4.30am, they carted away money, rice, beans, provisions, groundnut oil. The whole lot amounted to N163m. They left with 10 truckload of meals gadgets,” he stated
The Particular Adviser to Governor Udom Emmanuel, Capt Iniobong Ekong (Rtd) when contacted, stated the group, recognized as border management from workplace of the Nationwide Safety Adviser to the President, has confirmed to have been accountable for the raid. He, nonetheless, condemned the timing and vandalization.