Northern Nigerian Breaking News

REPORT: Undercover investigation exposes how custom officers help smugglers with illegal goods

An undercover investigation by Fisayo Soyombo, an investigative journalist and founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), has revealed how officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) update smugglers on the itinerary of their colleagues in a bid to facilitate the movement of smuggled goods. 

The undercover investigation titled “Undercover as a Smuggler” was published on Wednesday.  According to Soyombo, he illegally imported 100 bags of rice from the Republic of Benin into Nigeria to prove how porous the country’s borders are.

During the course of doing this, he said he did not face resistance from security operatives, owing to information provided by some officials of the NCS.

He linked up with a smuggler identified as Jide, who in turn linked him with one Alaba at Ilaro, a town in Ogun state.

Soyombo also narrated how he and the smugglers traveled from Ilaro, through Olorulekan, Ebute, Oja-Odan and Ologiri to Adja-Ouèrè, a trading town in the Benin Republic, to buy the bags of rice.

elsamad new

READ ALSO: 4 killed in customs , smugglers clash in Oyo State

After the purchase of the bags of rice in November 2022, they were transported through the forest by some motorcycles to Oja-Odan for temporary storage before being moved to Ilaro.

Meanwhile, there was a delay in the transportation of the rice from Oja-Odan to Ilaro because one of the smugglers said he had not been given instructions by some NCS officials.

“There is someone who controls each of those roads, even the road leading right to the border,” Soyombo quoted the smuggler as saying.

READ MORE: How corrupt security officials assist smugglers to import rice from Benin into Nigeria through illegal border route

“They are customs bosses; you have to be under one of them. You have to let them in on your plans, your movement. They are the ones who tell you the specific days and hours when you can move. Once you have their permission, you have no problem.”

After some days, the smugglers were yet to receive signals from the customs officers for the transportation of the rice to Ilaro. The bags of rice were sold off after customs officers raided a smuggling safe house in Oja-Odan. 

Soyombo would later embark on the second phase of the trip on April 5, 2023.

“We had seen the stalls back in November, so it was unnecessary to re-enter the Benin Republic. Instead, I make payments and wait in Ilaro while the motorcycle smugglers move the 100 bags to Oja-Odan through the forests.

“Then we begin the arduous wait for the rogue Customs officers to grant permission for smuggling by road. It takes only six days this time.”

SolaceBase recalls that former President Muhammadu Buhari closed some of the country’s borders to encourage local production of food, especially rice in 2019. Though he was criticised by some economists who believed that the country could not single handedly feed its citizens, Buhari claimed that Nigerians would eventually appreciate the border closure, adding that God can effectively guard the borders of the country.

Comments are closed.