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....Demands the release of Dare Elegbede, seeks compensation for damaged properties.

Following the recent attack unleashed on the people of Ibasha, Oke-Odan by the men of the Nigerian Customs which led to the arrest of DARE ELEGBEDE (a student) and one Mr AZEEZ 26, who was hit by a stray bullet during the unlawful invasion of the town.

As an association whose part of objectives is to defend the fundamental rights of Oke-Odan people, OTISA has taken swift actions to ensure that the uncivilised and barbaric act perpetuated by the officers of the Board drill is put to check and curtailed. OTISA through her EXCOS met with Ogun Area Command 1 Comptroller, M.O. Agbara, to table the grievances and register the displeasure of it's members over the continuous unrest in Oke-Odan, usually caused by some trigger-happy Customs officers.

The Association through one of it's leadership Comr Luqman Adewunmi presented the agitations to the Customs boss in order of proceedings;

1. That the serial unlawful invasion of a Oke-Odan town by the men of the Nigerian custom service be STOPPED with immediate effect.

2. That the continuous harassment of Oke-Odan youths by custom officers and other security operatives be STOPPED.

3. That DARE ELEGBEDE be released from Customs custody and all damaged properties be repaired.

4. That the excesses of the CAMP BOYS on Idiroko road be put to check and curtailed without further delay.

5. That the FG fiscal policy on the restriction of Petroleum supply to 20km away from the International borders be reviewed and give rooms for more filling stations to sell the commodity, so as to reduce the needless traffic jam usually caused by the numerous consumers of PMS on Idiroko road.

6. That the Idiroko Customs Command form a cordial relationship with student bodies and Border Communities.

7. That the customs should cultivate the habit of giving back to the host communities.

The Comptroller who in company with the director of Operations and other senior officers warmly received the delegation from OTISA in his Idiroko boarder office, condemned the illegal act perpetuated by some of his officers. While reiterating the commitment of the customs on the war against smuggling, he expressed deep concern over the criminal act carried out by smugglers in Oke-Odan and other boarder towns who he labelled an "Enemy of the State."

In a meeting that lasted for about 2 hours, the Benue State born Comptroller took his time to orientate the Students on the mode of operation of the customs, where one of them was asked to read out section 147 of the CEMA Act of 1958, 2006 as amended;

"Without prejudice to any other power conferred by this act where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that anything liable to forfeiture under the customs and excise law is kept or concealed in any building or place, any officer may, without a warrant enter that building or place at any time wether by day or night and search for seized, detain or remove any such thing and may, so far as is reasonably necessary for the purpose of such entry, search, seizure, detention or removal, break open any door, window or container and force and remove any other impediment or obstruction." The Section 147 (power to search premises) of the CEMA Act reads.

In his address, "your King, Olokeodan, Dr Olurotimi Fagbenro has always been in contact with us on issues surrounding Oke-Odan. He his indeed a lover of peace. He has tried so much in making peace whenever there's face-off between customs and smugglers in Oke-Odan. You all should be thankful to him, He's well educated and exposed, I respect him alot." Mr Agbara said.

"Smuggling is a criminal act in every meaning of it an illegal activity that should never be promoted in the society as anyone involved in it is automatically a criminal and an enemy of the country. He described smuggling as a weapon used by developed country to destroy the economic conditions of the developing countries. No sane Government will promote smuggling at the expense of her own economy. Benin Republic for an example is one of the largest importer of rice in the world with less than 20 million population. The rice is smuggled through the back door into Nigeria, there by mounting avoidable pressures on our local rice farmers and infant SMEs. The value chain in rice production will create thousands of jobs for our teeming youths if rice cultivation is patronised in this area. The Federal Government's policy on the band of rice importation will continue to be prioritised in all respect and which is our lawful duty. We customs unlike the Nigerian Police Force have absolute rights to break into any building abhoring suspicious illegal good, because the law empowered us to do so. No sane custom officer would shoot without reasonable or just cause," the Comptroller stressed.

While promising to look into our demands as a people and find lasting solution to the problems facing the community, Comptroller Agbara who franked against lawlessness of any form, charged the Oke-Odan Tertiary Institutions Students' Association (OTISA) to always be in touch with the him when need arises and make promotion of good virtues, education and hard-work, and not to support smuggling of any form or involve in criminal activities.

While maintaining social distancing, the President of the Association, Comrade Esther Olajumoke Alagbe appreciated the kind gesture extended to OTISA by the Comptroller and also thank the command PRO, Abdullahi Aliyu Maiwada for facilitating the august meeting at this critical time.

Comr. Abayomi Akunuewu
General Secretary (OTISA)

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