BY ENYIM ENYIM
ONITSHA—Transporters in the commercial city of Onitsha, Anambra State, Thursday, threatened a showdown with the Nigeria Customs Service, Owerri Zone, Imo State over alleged extortion by its personnel.
Addressing journalists on the issue, spokesman of the transpoeters, Director of Uchenna Motor Limited, Mr. Uchenna Maduakor, alleged that officers and men of Nigeria Customs Service, Owerri zone had been extorting them, adding that it was a deliberate plot to run Ndigbo out of business.
Maduakor, flanked by Directors of Chukwudum Motors, Sunday Okonkwo; Godstime Motors Limited, Chief Joseph Ejiofor and Our Saviour Motors, accused the officers and men of the Customs, Owerri zone of double standard.
He said, “we are raising this alarm because of the series of extortion by officers and men of the Customs, Owerri zone especially those staying at 9th Mile Corner, Enugu and Umuna stations because these people have caused us enough damage and in most cases, caused series of accidents involving our vehicles on Obollo-Afor Road.
“Our outcry is informed by the obvious conspiracy of silence on the part of the leadership of the Customs, which had turned our business into nightmare. They stop our vehicles and extort them and on many occasions, impounded them without any reason. They stop these poor market women, who come to buy baby wears in Onitsha and take them to Plateau State for sale. This is seriously affecting our transport business as these traders have abandoned our line to others.”
They accused the officers and men of the agency of frustrating them and plotting to force them out of business for allegedly refusing to part with huge sums of money being demanded by the customs men.
“They stop our vehicles on the road especially at 9th Mile Corner, Enugu and Umuna, all in Enugu State and demand between N1million and N300,000 for goods that were imported into the country whose Custom duties were duly paid and not illegal goods. We don’t carry arms or ammunition; these people carry only baby wears. We call on President Goodluck Jonathan to look into our case.”