Smugglers have flooded markets in Lagos and Ogun States with smuggled foreign parboiled rice, foreign used vehicles, poultry products and groundnut oil in the af- termath of the #EndSARS protests that left the country’s borders porous, Nigeria Daily investigations have revealed.
The #EndSARS protest embarked on by Nigerian youths campaigning against police brutality was later hijacked by hoodlums who looted warehouses and van- dalised government properties across the country.
In Ogun and Lagos States, the hoodlums took advantage of the protest to attack Nigeria Customs Service’s checkpoints,
killing a Customs officer, Solomon Alagye, and injuring several others.
The development was officially confirmed by the Ogun Command’s public relations officer, Hammed Oloyede.
It was gathered that two weeks after the attack, Customs officers are yet to return to their respective checkpoints both in Lagos and Ogun States for fear that they might be attacked again.
Consequently, smugglers are availing the opportunity of the porous borders to move smuggled goods around unhindered.
Nigeria Daily report revealed that the joint border drill operatives also stationed at Covenant University, along Sango-Idiroko road, Ota are yet to return weeks after hoodlums attacked officers statio- ned at that point.
Also, checkpoints from Owode inward Idiroko have reduced from what it used to be before the protest, making the Ogun State border porous for smugglers to penetrate.
It was learnt that in the past few days, smugglers had been moving smuggled poultry, rice and vegetable oil to various markets in Ogun State and its environs.
Our correspondent counted seven vehicles fully loaded with smuggled poultry products along Idiroko road at about 8:00am last Friday.
The same products were smuggled on Saturday at about 10:00am with no resistance from the joint border operati- ves, Ogun Customs operatives or Strike Force unit, Zone A.
Visits to markets by our correspondent showed that prices of foreign parboiled rice, poultry products and vegetable oil have reduced drastically in Lagos and Ogun States as a result of the smuggling activities in the last two weeks.
At Owode market along Idiroko border road, foreign rice that hitherto sold for N26,000/ bag now sells between N14,000 and N16,000, while at Atan market it sells for N18,000.
At Sango, a bag of rice sells for N20,000, while at Iyana ipaja market, the price has gone down from N32,000 to N22,000.
Also, a carton of poultry product (chicken Orobo) has gone down drastically.
A carton which used to sell for N14,000 now sells for N12000 at Owode, while at Sango, it sold for N13,000 before the protest and now sells for N10,000.
At Iyana Ipaja market, a car ton of frozen poultry product sold for N16,000 now goes for N14,000, while at popular Ile-Epo market, Oko Oba, Agege, frozen chicken that use to sell for N17,000 now sells for N15,000.
However, the crash in price was as a result of the massive smuggling through the unman- ned Lagos and Ogun borders af- ter the #EndSARS protest, especially at checkpoints where Customs officers were attacked.
Speaking, a customs source at the idiroko border command of the Nigeria Customs Service said, the morale of officers is present- ly on the low due to the attack on their checkpoints and formation in Ogun and Lagos States by hoodlums campaigning against police brutality.
According to him, but for the steadfastness of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A, Ike- ja, smugglers would have overrun the South West, especially Ogun and Lagos with contraband.
The officer who pleaded anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press said, “After the attack, the morale of Customs officers manning the borders became low, especially in Ogun and Lagos commands.
“You can see the paltry seizure made by the Seme border command last week. That is not what Seme command is known for in terms of anti-smuggling but the need for face-saving was the re ason why they made that seizure available.
“You can imagine the command celebrating seizure of seven units Tokunbo vehicles, six unit of Vegetable oil.
We need morale boosters for field officers to keep up the anti-smuggling fight in the Lagos and Ogun Command because that is the two busiest borders in Nigeria.”
He however suggested that there should be consequences for any smuggler that kill a Customs officer.
“The rate at which smugglers attack Customs officers without consequence has become a source of concern to us.
What happened to those who kill one of our officers at Abeokuta? What happened to those who attacked and killed our officers during the #EndSARS protest at Oke-Ore? If not resolved and killing of our officers continues, who will run after smugglers?” He queried.
The Seme Command of the service had said it intercepted a paltry seven fairly-used vehicles, 396 bags of imported rice and 152 jerry cans of petrol during the #EndSARS protest.
The Command’s Spokesman, Abdullahi Hussaini, in a statement said the seizures were made within two weeks of the protest.
He stated: “We have to merge patrol base together ho have good numbers and a lot is being done to motivate our officers. The CG has equally sent messages out to all officers telling them he is behind then as far as they are on legitimate duty. Also motivation of officers is everyone’s responsibility.
“CGC has assured them of his full support in discharging their duty, opinion moulders, religious leaders, media, traditional rulers should support and preach to Nigerians to stop destruction of go- vernment and private properties.
“Destruction of properties of security agencies, government infrastructure is not the way to go because the money for developmental projects will be used to repair destroyed properties.
Attack on security agencies shouldn’t be encouraged if we haven’t made peace with criminals but,customs are on duty discharging their functions”.