The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL has urged the Federal Government to curb the excesses of the Federal Road Safety Commission and the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS with regard to their operations particularly the unnecessary exploitation of the populace.
This CACOL stated through its Executive Chairman, Debo Adeniran while describing the ills perpetuated through these agencies and how much harm they have done to the people in the name of enforcing the law.
He said “the fact is that most of the institutions saddled with the task of enforcing laws often take advantage of innocent Nigerians while carrying out their duties. The NCS and FRSC operatives appear to becoming more notorious such acts.”
“For instance, the modus operandi displayed in the Sango raid by the FOU and the circumstances is replica of the last seizure of pump action rifles at Mile 2 Expressway, Lagos where illegal items are discovered at several kilometers from their entry points. Now, assuming without conceding that items seized from Sango, (a town that’s about 50 kilometers from the Nigerian borders manned by the NCS with several check posts on the highways at different intervals) are banned items, the questions to ask will be – how did the items pass through the nets of NCS check posts before getting to Sango? How can a potential buyer, identify whether food items such rice and vegetable oil is smuggled or not?”
“It is irresponsible of the NCS that have to continued sustain ineffective methods of tackling smuggling to turn round to abuse innocent and law abiding Nigerians with the ‘armed robbery-like’ manner the operatives of the Service were reported to have invaded the Sango rice market.”
“Occurrences like the Sango episode has always been rampant across the country to such a ridiculous levels that men of NCS harass Nigerians in Abuja for instance over vehicles allegedly illegally imported through the Benin – Nigeria border! This crude and failed mode of manning our borders is at the very heart of the incessant and unnecessary clashes over banned items with the seeming undying nature of illegality called smuggling.”
Citing the March 8, 2017 incidence on Abeokuta – Sagamu Expressway in Ogun state where it was reported that at least one person was killed when the NCS men clashed with suspected smugglers, Adeniran said “it is unfair for Nigerians to bear the brunt of the incompetence the Customs services in the manner they do to extent of unnecessary loss of lives and property. And we note that the zeal of these operatives is not truly inspired by their constitutional duties or patriotism but by the desire to corruptly enrich themselves. The recent revelations where explainable and yet to be explained number of exotic cars were discovered in the residences of top ranking officers of NCS speak volumes about how deeply embedded corruption in the service.”
Speaking on the FRSC on the other hand he said “the officers of the Commission had continued to exploit the innocence of Nigerians by exorbitant charges and unnecessary billings even when people have all their required documents.”
“The recently imposed compulsory use of speed-limiting devices in vehicles is a shining example of government and its agencies indiscretion indirectly and unnecessarily increasing the sufferings of majority of Nigerians.”
“The speed-limiting device is said to gauge the speed of motorist so as to check reckless driving and over-speeding to reduce accidents on the roads. We recognize the FRSC was institutionalized to ensure safety on the road.”
“But the opposite has continually been the experience of many Nigerians; an average Nigerian with a car goes through a lot before they buy the vehicles. Without consideration for that background the FRSC adds to people’s pains by requesting that they compulsorily install speed limiters at the cost of about N35, 000 to control speed. This defies logic, for how can it be the responsibility of Nigerians to pay for devices that could help the FRSC, an agency of government that has yearly budgetary allocations to perform its duties better?”
“It is just a way of government abandoning its responsibilities while also exploiting the people. It should be the sole responsibility of government to equip its agencies for optimal performance. The failure to do this is what is actually behind this cunning way of shifting the burden on Nigerians who pay the taxes and own the resources that ought to be used to equip most of the agencies. This is unfair!”
“The FRSC must stop harassing and victimizing the people over what government had failed to do. There are people, who do not even have reasons to be on the highway, and there are times that speeding could be the only savior, for instance when armed robbers and other deadly criminals are on one’s tail. The Federal Government must therefore put in place measures to check the excesses of these agencies to protect Nigerians from extortion and avoidable calamities.”
In concluding, Adeniran averred that there are so many other ways to identify and punish traffic defaulters, smugglers and other law breakers, if the government cannot bring succor for already impoverished Nigerians it should increase their sufferings. Since government has established these agencies for certain reasons, to serve certain purposes, then it must empower them with all necessary resources that will allow the agencies to be effective for the utmost benefit of the country.”