Traders, who ply Katsina –Jibia road in Katsina state daily, have cried out over extortions by men of Nigerian Customs service stationed at the various checking points on the road.
Leader of the Traders Association and former President of the National Association of Katsina State Students, Comrade Nasiru Danye Jibia, told The Nation harassment of the Customs operatives along the road have increased costs of operating business in the area and affected economic lives
He said: ’’Traders and in fact, the entire community is facing hurdles after hurdles from the Customs officers stationed on the road.
“They always extort huge sums of monies from us depending on the category of goods, whether you are coming or going”
“The Customs officers would unnecessarily ask for a bribe before they allow you to pass with the goods”
Danye called for the intervention of the relevant federal agencies to save them from their plight
He said,” We don’t know if there has been any new law that bans doing business in our town because it’s a border town but even if there is a law, the people should have been informed.”
On whether the goods being ferried were contraband, the youth leader said the officers don’t even bother to check.
Rather, he said goods were taxed based on the vehicle carrying them, adding some would be asked to part with money that will make it very difficult to attain profit even after selling all the goods’’
According to him, prices of goods like maize, millet, wheat, Chaff, cement have skyrocketed in the area because of the levies enforced by the Customs officers.
But Katsina Command of the Nigeria Customs Service said it would be unfair for any businessman to accuse the service of enforcing levy on them.
The Comptroller of the command, Abdullah Kirawa, told The Nation the service only ensures contraband goods are not imported into the country.
He stressed the service nationwide doesn’t disturb law-abiding business people.
He said: ’’The men of the service are stationed on the roads and other areas to ensure bad “elements” among business people are caught and penalised.
“People of Jibia have the right to engage in any sort of legally accepted business venture and are allowed to go to anywhere in the country to do their business. We are here to support people and not discourage them’’.
‘’ Recently, our men caught four trailers ferrying goods. Upon interception, they (drivers) said they were going to Jibia but investigation revealed that they were taking the goods to Maradi in the Niger Republic’’’’.
” Our people stay there on the road to ensure that the right thing is done.”