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Nigeria Customs Officials Only Arrest Smugglers Who Refuse To Pay For Bribe, Says Fisayo Soyombo

Nigeria Customs Officials Only Arrest Smugglers Who Refuse To Pay For Bribe, Says Fisayo Soyombo—According to reports, Officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have been accused of collecting bribes from smugglers to bring all sorts of goods and items into the country.

The founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), Fisayo Soyombo, made the accusation during an interview on ‘Hard Copy’, a Channels Television programme on Friday night.

He said customs officials in Nigeria only intercept and publish names of smugglers who refuse to bribe them or who outsmart them.

Soyombo said he had a first-hand experience of the atrocities perpetrated by customs officials when he embedded as a smuggler to bring in bags of rice from Benin Republic in 2022.

He said: “I went into Benin Republic in November 2022, got some bags of rice and brought them to a place called Oja Odan. From Oja Odan, I was supposed to move them to Ilaro but we had to bribe customs.

“What happened was that I went in like I wanted to smuggle. I had to get smugglers already based in Ilaro and Oja Odan to take me in as part of them.

“Everything that I wrote that the smugglers told me, the smugglers believed they were speaking to a smuggler like them and not a journalist.

“When people say it is hearsay, It is not. It is just like going undercover to join a robbery gang and because you are one of them, they tell you a police commissioner is part of them. You can’t treat such information with scant regard.

“We were waiting for customs to tell us the day to move the bags of rice from Oja Odan to Ilaro and while waiting, I had to leave the country.

“So, there was a wait time because the customs officials who took money from the lead smuggler had not yet given us the all-clear.

“What happens is, if you hear or read it in any newspaper that ‘customs intercepts one million bags of rice’, those are people that did not bribe them.

“Anyone… and I say this with all conviction… anyone can bring in anything into Nigeria if you pay the right people.

“If you read any news that customs seized bags of rice or chicken, those are people that tried to outsmart them. If you bribe the right people in customs, you can bring in anything.

“When I say anything, I mean rice, chicken, turkey, arms, ammunition, tramadol, guns and motorcycles used by terrorists in the morth. These were things that were brought in.”

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