The rice sellers in Sango-Ota market in Ado Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State on Wednesday blocked the Ota-end of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway for over 12 hours over what they called invasion of their shops by the men of the Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit, Ikeja.
The men of the NCS, the market women alleged damaged the padlocks and doors leading to over 60 shops located inside Sango-Ota motor park, and carted away 18,000 bags of rice and jerrycans of vegetable oil.
The Customs operatives were said to have invaded the market around 1am with about 15 trucks and carted away the bags of rice and jerrycans of vegetable oil.
The operation, according to an eye witness lasted for about one hour, and the Customs operatives were said to have been joined by the men of the ‘Operation Mesa’.
They further alleged that some of the security operatives wore hoods, to conceal their identities.
This action led to a mass protest by some angry youths and rice sellers who barricaded both sides of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway shortly before the overhead bridge at Sango-Ota with disused tyres and planks, and disrupted vehicular movement.
Motorists were not allowed to move into or outside Sango-Ota, from Lagos-end, Abeokuta-end, and Iju-Winners-Oju Ore end.
The leader of the rice sellers in the market, Alhaja W. Salako, alleged that the men of the Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit, Ikeja, who broke into their shops carted away 18,000 bags of rice worth N378m.
Salako said many of them took loans to buy these goods and had run into debts with the seizure.
She said in Yoruba, “They carted away no fewer than 18,000 bags of rice and jerrycans of vegetable oil. Everything is worth N378m.
“They broke into these shops by destroying the padlocks, the burglary proofs and steel doors, before removing the bags of rice and vegetable oil. Some of our members who kept money inside lockers in their shops had the money stolen.”
Salako appealed to the Comptroller- General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hammed Ali (retd) to intervene in their case and ensured that their goods were returned to them, because they bought the goods in the market and they were not involved in smuggling.
“We bought these goods with our money, I believe if they have issues, it should be at the border and not coming inside the market to cart away our goods. ‘’